Big Elon Musk EV announcements expected on September 22

If you are interested in electric vehicles, Tesla

Battery Day is fast becoming the equivalent of an Apple iPhone launch. The name underestimates him a bit. This is the day when Tesla makes announcements to its investors, then follows with public presentations of the latest technologies developed by the company. These mostly revolve around battery improvements, but since batteries are such an important part of an EV, the implications can be immense. The the next Battery Day will be on the 22sd September, and there are rumors of very important announcements. Here are the things Elon Musk is most likely to talk about.

Million mile battery

The most anticipated Battery Day announcements will revolve around the so-called “Battery a million kilometers away”, which as the name suggests is a battery that has a lifespan of a million kilometers, putting an end once and for all to the misconceptions that EV batteries don’t last very long and will require a significant recycling effort. The Tesla Battery Research Team led by Jeff Dahn has published several theoretical research papers that may provide the underlying technological change needed. The monocrystalline cathode could be large, allowing 90% capacity after 4000 charge-discharge cycles, where typically the figure is more like 1000 cycles for current technology. Thus, monocrystalline cathodes would go a long way in allowing a battery to retain 90% of its capacity after one million kilometers, since the an average Tesla battery can already reach 300,000 km without losing more than 10%.

However, another technology that would help with the arrival of the Million Mile battery is the silicon nanowire anode, and some have argued that Tesla teases this with the background image of its Battery Day homepage. Nanowire silicon anodes could be a game changer, due to the massive effect they have on energy density. The technology would allow battery cells that weigh half the weight and take up half the space than current lithium-ion batteries, paving the way for an energy density of 400Wh / kg, where the Tesla Model batteries 3 current have a density of about 250Wh. / kg. Using these anodes, a Tesla Model 3 Long Range could have a WLTP rating of over 500 miles for the same weight. In another mysterious twist, a company called Amprios who developed this technology moved right next to Tesla, although Musk denied any connection. While it is unlikely to announce nanowire silicon batteries for cars in 2021, it may well reveal a roadmap where the technology will become available in the next 3-4 years.

Cobalt-free batteries

Related to the Million Mile battery, there was news in June that Tesla battery supplier CATL had already announced that it could manufacture batteries with a lifespan of 1.2 million kilometers which can last 16 years. However, these involve a switch from lithium-ion battery technology to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery technology. It’s not obvious from the name, but the key part of the LFP is that it doesn’t use cobalt, a rare earth mineral that is one of the main reasons EV batteries are so dear. LFP batteries have a reduced density compared to lithium-ion, but are cheaper to produce and have greater durability, so an announcement of their use would be another step towards the affordability of electric vehicles. However, CATL technology is likely to focus initially on the Chinese market, where competition from local electric vehicle suppliers makes Tesla’s prices much higher than they are currently in Europe or the United States. This battery technology may not yet be used in other markets.

Dry battery electrodes

Behind that opaque technical term might lie the most ambitious announcement of the day. In May 2019, Tesla bought Maxwell Technologies for $ 218 million. This appeared to be due to Maxwell’s dry battery electrode technology, which improves production efficiency by a factor of 16 and reduces manufacturing costs by up to 20%, two key factors in bringing electric vehicles to the market. a mass market. Maxwell’s technology has also been shown to improve battery performance, with a current battery density of 300 kWh / kg and a track record of 500 kWh / kg. So, acquiring Maxwell would mean Tesla could produce cheaper batteries faster, and potentially with greater range in the future.

Six months after the acquisition of Maxwell, rumors began to circulate of a Roadrunner project aimed at reducing the cost of producing batteries. Tesla also bought Hibar, which builds equipment for the production of batteries. In other words, Tesla is preparing to produce its own batteries in large quantities, with lower costs as well as higher density and improved density, again paving the way for more affordable electric vehicles.

Will Tesla become a utility company?

Tesla has been selling its PowerWall since 2015 and has also tried solar panels with its solar tiles, which are currently not available in the UK. He also built vehicle-network technology in model 3. But Tesla also has applied to be an energy supplier in UK and already acquired a license to trade electricity in Western Europe. With Tesla’s large network of superchargers, it makes sense for the company to have more control over energy supply costs, especially alongside Powerwall’s sales expansion. A large installed base of Powerwalls in addition to being an energy company could allow Tesla to offer customers the option of subscribing to a program in which their home batteries sell electricity back to the grid during peak periods demand, via Tesla as an electricity supplier. There is a lot of speculation here, but joining the dots involves directions along these lines.

Is Tesla planning an electric plane?

Electric vehicles are heavy due to the weight of the batteries, but this is not a problem for a car. However, it’s a different story for airplanes, where every gram counts. Elon Musk a discussed the possibility of a Tesla aircraft earlier this year after rumors that we could be in development. He denied working on an airplane for at least the next five years, but stated that the energy density of 400Wh / kg mentioned above is where electric planes start to become viable. There is unlikely to be a clear announcement regarding a Tesla plane on Battery Day, but there could be some clues alongside the claims about reaching the magical density level.

New manufacturing processes in Berlin

Finally, according to Electrek, Musk is promising new paint systems and a revolution in body engineering when the Model Y begins production in Berlin. One of the developments will likely be huge casting machines that produce car bodies in fewer larger parts to minimize welding, reducing production costs while speeding up manufacturing. It’s clearly not a battery announcement, but with the Berlin Gigafactory set to start production in July 2021, it’s highly likely that Musk will announce details of progress towards that goal during Battery Day.

Of course, there will be a lot more announcements on Battery Day that we didn’t see coming. It’s also unlikely that an announcement will make the Tesla you just bought look obsolete – the so-called Osborne effect. But some very exciting developments will be revealed on September, which could strengthen Tesla’s lead over its competitors.

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