Tesla Building Tech to Fully Charge EVs in Just 5 Minutes
July 17, 2013 1:44 PM
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Tesla will use solar panels and batteries at Supercharger stations to help supply this extra electricity
Tesla is looking to turn the electric vehicle (EV) industry upside down once again with a new system that could fully charge a Tesla vehicle in just five minutes.
Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel recently said that the automaker is working on a charging system that would get drivers out of the Supercharger stations and back on the road with a full charge in just 5 minutes.
“It’s not going to happen in a year from now. It’s going to be hard. But I think we can get down to five to 10 minutes,” Straubel said.
Tesla plans to do this by making sure all parts of the charging process are communicating with one another so that the battery isn't negatively affected by such fast charging speeds. A battery can easily overheat at these speeds, but
work differently from traditional charging methods.
Traditional charging consists of on-board chargers that take AC power from the wall socket and convert it to DC. From there, it can regulate the power given to the battery.
The Superchargers, on the other hand, skips the use of the onboard charger and converts AC to DC outside the vehicle. The outside charger keeps an eye on battery voltage and temperature and changes rates of charging as needed to keep the battery safe. But in order for the outside charger to monitor these stats, it must communicate with other parts of the vehicle.
Aside from potential battery issues, charging more quickly can take a toll on the grid and utilities. Tesla's current Superchargers deliver 120 kilowatts of electricity while most other charging systems -- such as General Motors' -- offers a maximum of 100 kilowatts. It's difficult to draw larger amounts of power from the grid without seeing costs rise significantly.
Tesla plans to fix this by giving its Supercharger stations solar panels and batteries. The solar power would be stored in batteries and lessen the amount of electricity drawn from the grid. Also, the system could help utilities monitor major changes in the grid, and Tesla could charge them for this service -- hence keeping costs down.
Other automakers have employed solar power for their EVs, too. For instance, General Motors (GM) announced a solar charging canopy called
the Tracking Solar Tree
, which moves with the sun and helps to charge GM's EVs. It's kept in Michigan, and is able to increase renewable energy production by about 25 percent due to its movable parts. In addition, the tree will produce up to 30,000-kilowatt hours per year and generate enough solar energy to charge six EVs daily.
Deploying charging tech that will allow drivers to charge their vehicles as quickly as it takes to fill up a tank of gas could significantly help push the adoption of Tesla EVs. Convenience and cost are two huge selling points, and it looks like Tesla has tackled both in this case.
By the time Tesla rolls out the affordable version of the Model S, which is reportedly in the works, more people may consider buying the price-friendly vehicles and using its convenient tech.
Tesla's Supercharger stations can charge a Model S battery halfway in just 20 minutes today.
Just last month, Tesla unveiled a convenient alternative to waiting for a Model S to charge --
. The idea behind battery swapping is to easily open the car chassis to pull the battery out and replace it with a fully charged one. This saves the driver from having to wait for their battery to charge before traveling.
Tesla is doing everything it can to get Model S' into the hands of customers, too, as it recently ramped up production to over
400 Model S' built
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RE: Nor Really That Difficult
7/18/2013 12:13:31 AM
The Tesla batteries are not "immune" from fast-charge aging, but it may be less of an issue than we think. I do not know exactly what cells Tesla is using off-hand. I have heard lifespans ranging anywhere from 300-1500 cycles for different lithium ion cells. The Model S batteries are under warranty for 125,000 miles, which means 416 full recharges over the life of the car (and they are expecting 70% capacity remaining in the pack at the end of the warranty period at which point the batteries can be repurposed for solar or whatever). So they need 416 recharges to make the warranty, and it may be possible to reach double that. This is also without taking weather into account.
But remember that most people will almost never fully discharge the battery or even need to use a supercharger, because people simply do not drive that much in a day. Recharging to 80% significantly increases the life of the pack.
At least some of the cell degradation from faster charging is due to heat, the Model S battery pack mitigates this with a cooling system.
RE: Nor Really That Difficult
7/18/2013 11:56:33 AM
There's a lot of proprietary knowledge that Tesla has about batteries and how best to use them. Even if you see 80% charge, you have no idea what's going on internally. There can be wear leveling or there could be wear concentration. The latter could be useful if it's better to discharge one cell group 1000 times instead of ten cell groups 100 times, and you could refurbish the pack by replacing just that one cell group.
Some data has been collected for the Tesla Roadster, and battery life looks quite promising:
100k miles with only 15-20% loss of range is pretty good.
RE: Nor Really That Difficult
7/19/2013 12:50:01 AM
Right, the smarter you are about your pack, the better you can do wear-levelling, the longer you can make the pack last..
Plus no doubt Tesla is working with Panasonic to find the best possible chemistry for these things, and bringing down the cost of the actual pack (besides the cells).. The current technology will be fine for decades to come, all we need is incremental improvements and price drops..
"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference
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