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Tesla's CTO predicts that low cost batteries will lead to an energy and transport revolution

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
Jul 16, 2015
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  1. The cost of lithium-ion batteries will plummet over the next 10 years, transforming the landscape of the global transportation and electricity systems, according to Tesla Motors chief technology officer JB Straubel.

    Speaking at yesterday’s solar conference that was held in San Francisco, Straubel said that in the future all modes of transportation except for aviation would be powered by batteries, and that newer electricity systems shall be built with solar panels that would be combined with batteries.

    While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has dropped in recent years, Straubel said that the price will soon start declining at a faster rate than most people expect; referring to the current cost levels as still being stuck at the high end of a “cliff”.

    Straubel predicted the real transition will take place when running vehicles on batteries will cost less than running them on gasoline. Likewise, he said, when the combination of batteries and solar panels become cheap enough to provide electricity for less than the cost of fossil fuel power, solar energy shall become the preferred choice for both domestic and commercial use. “Once we get to that, there is no going back. That’s the tipping point that’s going to happen, I am quite certain, over the next 10 years,” said Straubel.

    Straubel is likely making his predictions based partly on Tesla’s plan to build a large lithium-ion battery factory in Nevada. The facility is scheduled to start making battery packs next year, and is designed to increase its production capacity to 50 gigawatt-hours annually by 2020, enough to run 500,000 Tesla cars.

    Straubel made the remarks at one of the largest conferences in the U.S. for executives in the solar industry called Intersolar North America. The event takes place annually at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, California, and attracts up to 18,000 visitors.

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  2. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +138

    I would still stick to digging up the black stuff for the indefinite future.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,218   +421

    That won't really happen until we can get higher capacity batteries, which will be new tech, which will cost more money. Even if the current model Tesla's cost $20,000 there would still only be so many buying because their travel needs cannot be met by the current battery and charging technology. So I predict the Tesla CTO is wrong. I suggest they start investing in making batteries that have a considerable amount more energy storage potential, if they haven't already.
  4. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    Around 1990, when LCDs were in their infancy they couldn't solve the problem of ghosting. Any sort of moving picture would leave a terrible streak. They figured out that if you added a tiny bit of memory for each pixel you could get rid of the streaking. Problem was... this would make the screens cost thousands of dollars because memory was so expensive. But one smart inventor (Dale Morgen) patented it anyway knowing that the price of memory wouldn't be high forever. Took like 15 years, but finally memory got cheap enough to make LCDs a household technology. And Dale is pretty rich.

    So... is the CTO wrong? Maybe, but history of technology says that stuff gets cheaper. We can hope it will be in ten years, but even if not, I'll be he's pretty close.
  5. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    Yeah.... even if battery prices plummet tomorrow, gasoline cars will last for another 10 years at least. And even they sell a super cheap electric car with 500 mile range, people won't buy them because the value of gasoline cars will plummet right along those batteries and there'll be no used car market. That means no one will be able to sell/trade-in the cars they have.
    cmbjive likes this.
  6. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,366   +67

    Tesla should know its name and use tesla towers to send electricity.
  7. H3llion

    H3llion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,362   +276

    I will forever be keeping my 73 Super Beetle :D
  8. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,875   +1,206

    Actually... Nikolai Tesla invented the induction motor, which is the type of electric motor that powers Tesla's (the company's) cars. :)

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