Tesla’s battery partner Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) has published a new paper on a battery cell that could run over 1 million miles (or 16 years), which according to them would be particularly useful in ‘robot taxis’ (aka robotaxi) — a technology that Tesla wants to bring to the consumer market.
A new paper on new battery chemistries printed by a team including Jeff Dahn, the physics professor from Halifax who is known as Tesla’s battery guru, claimed that the results propose a cell with a lifetime of 6,000 cycles. This would turn in a large pack car to the “million-mile battery” which Elon Musk has foreseen for Tesla.
The professor is well aware of the difference between an efficient battery result in the lab and other involved tests and the further difference between the tests and battery in high volume production with good prices and high quality. The later has not been displayed and is difficult to predict. The paper predicts these batteries are good for robotaxis. More on, these batteries work well even when run on a 0-100% discharge cycle. Today’s batteries do best on a 20-80% discharge cycle, so one gets 66% more range from the same batch if you can safely do 0-100%.
At the Tesla Autonomy Event last September, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk while talking about the economics of Tesla’s upcoming fleet of robotaxis, emphasized that the vehicles need to be heavy-duty for the finances to work:
“The cars currently built are all designed for about a million miles of operation. The drive unit is designed, tested, and validated for 1 million miles of operation.”
Nonetheless, the CEO acknowledged that the battery packs are not manufactured to last 1 million miles. However, the CEO asserted that Tesla has new batteries coming up soon that would last one million miles.
The new battery tried is a Li-Ion battery cell with a next-generation “single crystal” NMC cathode and a new advanced electrolyte.
Dahn’s team have been widely experimenting with these cells and founded on the results that the battery could power an electric car for more than 1.6 million km which is 1 million miles. This means battery cells that last two to three times longer than Tesla’s current battery cells.
The batteries were tested under different circumstances and cycles. Even at the high temperature of 40’C, these cells were enduring 4,000 cycles. Similar to Tesla’s battery pack, an active cooling system was making the battery cells last for over 6,000 cycles, which would mean more than 1 million miles in a suitable battery pack.
Elon Musk is known for making huge claims but anyone who had doubts about Tesla making a million-mile battery next year has no reason to be uncertain now. Tesla is eventually moving towards a breakthrough when it claimed that it had switched to manufacture its own cells.
Tesla is looking years forward with desired goals. In a future where self-driving shared electric vehicles would control the movement, the cost per mile would be reduced, and the durability of these vehicles is going to be a substantial determining factor in the price.