there's one main factor that is turning people off from truly
considering electric vehicles for their next purchase, it is the
price. Thus when Nissan claimed to
have reached production costs of $375/kWh for its upcoming 2011
Nissan LEAF EV, it turned heads. After all, most auto
companies were saying that they hoped to reach $400-$700/kWh with
their upcoming models.Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is not
impressed with Nissan's claims, though. While he does not
comment much on the battery cells themselves, during a call to
analysts and investors he blasts Nissan's supporting systems, saying
are more primitive than his company's first prototype.At
issue is the fact that the LEAF uses air cooling for its batteries,
while Tesla uses a superior liquid heating/cooling thermal management
solution. By opting for the cheaper air cooling, Musk says
Nissan's battery temperatures will be "all over the place".
Worse yet, he says that they will undergo "huge degradation"
at colder temperatures, and literally "shut off" at warmer
ones. Competitor GM has stated that its 2011 Chevy Volt EV may
have similar issues.Tesla Motors' current system for the
Roadster sports over 6,831 laptop-sized battery cells designed for
automotive use. It packages cells together in modules and then
places modules into a full pack. Each module is equipped with
liquid cooling and temperature sensors. Firmware controls the
rate at which the cooling fluid (or heating in cold weather) is
pumped through the system, responding to changes in heat.Despite
having a huge profit margin on its current Roadster, Musk says that
his company is "giving up" hopes of overall profitability
in exchange for "pretty astronomical growth." Tesla
is instead opting to spend up to $500M USD (currently its hoping to
stick to under $400M USD) to develop its new
Model S electric vehicle.Musk says the new vehicle will
sport significant improvements to its battery. It will feature
50 percent more density per module -- meaning that it will pack 3
cells into a similar sized module for ever 2 of the Roadster's pack.
It also ditches the expensive all-cobalt electrode in favor of a
nickel cobalt aluminum cathode (positive electrode). The new
composite cathode will be much cheaper, while not significantly
impacting performance.The company has not revealed the cost
per kWh that it's targeting for the Model S. In 2009 the
industry average, according to a Deutsche Bank report [PDF],
was $650/kWh, but current orders being placed for the 2011/2012
timeframe are averaging $450/kWh. The rapidly dropping prices
are helping to cut the cost of laptop batteries as well, which are
priced at $350/kWh, according
toLG Chem subsidiary Compact Power’s CEO Prabahkar Pati.
Pati says that low price is a sign of things to come for the auto
industry.Tesla Motors plans on having an "Alpha"
version of the Model S built later this year. That version will
be 80 to 90 percent complete in terms of production intent.
Then next year it will build a "Beta" version, which will
be 99 percent complete. The production Model S is launching in
2012 priced at $57,400 USD.While that price may seem high,
price inflation may make it more competitive. Some dealers of
the upcoming Volt EV are reportedly adding $10,000 to $20,000 USD
markups on to its base price, raising the cost to as
high as $61,000 USD before tax credit.Still pressure
is on for Tesla, which lost $38.5M USD in its last fiscal quarter,
bringing its total losses for the year to $68M USD -- over $10M USD
more than it lost all
year. The company has an upcoming contract with Toyota
an electrified RAV4 that also promises great future payoffs,
but at the present is sapping cash.
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