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Tesla CTO says EV batteries should last 10-15 years – minimum

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CleanTechnica

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about some interesting comments Tesla CTO JB Straubel made regarding vehicle-to-grid technology and using old EV batteries for stationary energy storage (for homes or the grid). There was a tidbit in there that I wanted to further highlight on its own, since it’s such a common question and concern — the tidbit about EV battery life.

Tesla-Autopilot-Traffic-Rain

JB stated, “We expect 10 maybe 15 year life at a minimum from these batteries. And, you know, the degradation is not entirely linear.”

Before we go further, though, I think it’s important to note that batteries degrade from basically two things: cycling (being charged and discharged) and time (ah, old Father Time).

It’s unclear from this short statement whether JB is saying that the lifespan will come to a close after 10–15 years (minimum) more because of cycling or age.

Humorously, this expected lifespan flies in the face of a 2013 comments made by Sven Bauer, the CEO of BMZ, which at the time was Europe’s largest battery manufacturer (and perhaps still is, but I’m not seeing current data on this topic). He stated that “the battery life is not very long” for the battery cells Tesla uses, and that “they are never going to achieve 20 years’ battery life.”

Whoops. Well, we are yet to see how long Tesla’s batteries will last before max capacity drops to 80% of initial max capacity (not that 70% isn’t good enough in most situations anyway), but a “10 maybe 15 year life at a minimum” sure sounds like some of them could hit 20 years, or at least come close to that. In any case, “not very long” seems to have been absurdly pessimistic.

Of course, as I noted in this article, Sven seemed to make an incorrect assumption, that Tesla’s 18650 battery cells are the same as the 18650 battery cells used in consumer electronics like laptops — they’re not the same, even though they are the same size.

So far, even Tesla cars that have driven over 80,000 miles are seeing little battery degradation.

Tesla-battery-degradation-Model-S-570x366

Note that these results can’t be relied on 100% since they could suffer from self-selection bias, but they imply that Tesla’s batteries are holding up quite well.

We’ll know much more in the decade to come, but I’d take it as a great sign that Tesla’s highly regarded CTO is saying “We expect 10 maybe 15 year life at a minimum from these batteries.”

For more on how batteries actually die, by the way, and a deeper explanation of “the degradation is not entirely linear,” I highly recommend this video from Jeff Dahn:

This article was originally published on CleanTechnica. Reproduced here with permission  

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  • Kenshō

    Is Tesla Motors the authority on this website? Why is there constant promo articles about Tesla? I’d like to see the company with more low tech humanitarian products. The sports cars and SUV’s are performance and luxury market. The Powerwall, still apparently their flagship stationary battery getting the most journalism, is a departure from traditionally locating batteries in an indoors cabinet where batteries are easily replaced and all components are modular – so wiring, battery monitor and BMS can all be easily maintained without throwing everything away every time a plastic fantastic battery is replaced. I’d like to see less highly engineered black box systems and more practical systems that can be more easily maintained over time. The PowerPack looks like it has more potential as something that could be re-engineered as a more basic product without trying to cater to external installs and hence the additional expense of liquid cooling (like the Powerwall). All in all Tesla, more cost effective low tech products suitable for humanity’s needs. Less elegance, style, fashion for your cars and batteries and more focus on meeting humanity’s needs and hence paying your debts:
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/4003704-cutting-edge-bleeding-death

    • Ren Stimpy

      Tesla is building up to volume, just give them time. They made the right move by starting with high performance, luxury, elegant, stylish, fashionable cars – these are high priced but low volume. The success of each model slingshotted them into the next lower priced, higher volume model. By approaching the market from the top end they were able to hire the best designers and engineers and such and that is the secret of their success.

      A lot of other electric vehicle companies have failed because they tried to make a cheap, high volume car from the get go, and their cars almost always looked like a cross between a Goggomobil and a Bongo Van – nobody wanted to be seen in them.

      Musky and co. do want to make cost effective products suitable for humanity’s needs but first they need to build up their ability to manufacture things in high volume.

      • Kenshō

        I’m familiar with the story. If Tesla can’t demonstrate a plan for a mass market vehicle, then the community has no grounds to believe in this conjecture. Nor are there any grounds for Tesla to assert its authority as leader in any environmental cause of humanity or entitled to ongoing free advertising in the form of these articles. If there is no business plan, then they are merely another luxury car maker deserving no special treatment from this publication.

  • Michael Dufty

    Sounds good until I remember my EV battery is already 6 years old.

  • MorinMoss

    Not to cast doubt on JB Straubel’s claim but, unlike Nissan, Tesla does NOT give a guarantee for minimum capacity at a specified mileage / age.