EV Battery Breakthrough, not if, but when

Over on Parknew.biz, Astrid has posted three, count’em, three stories about EVs. One on the money the feds are supplying for charging stations, one on the top three EV models, and one on a new Siemens charger. That’s all in one day. EV’s are in the news.

There is one story that I’m sure will be appearing shortly on parknew.biz from the Wall Street Journal. It quotes a paper from a Harvard researcher basically saying that all the articles about a ‘break through’ in battery technology may be overstated.

Seems words like ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘possibly’, and ‘seems’ creep into the articles, but reality is quite different.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Given what’s at sake, it’s easy to chalk up exaggerated claims about new battery breakthroughs to the tech industry’s propensity for hyperbole and grandstanding. A typical example: Researchers invent a tweak to a type of battery that has long shown promise but has never come close to commercialization. That gets spun into claims that an electric car with a 2,000-mile range is within reach.

“People like a breakthrough, but when we write papers we try to avoid using these kinds of words,” says Xin Li, a researcher at Harvard University whose team recently published a paper on a new kind of higher-capacity solid-state battery in the scientific journal Nature. “There are too many battery ‘breakthroughs’ in my opinion in the past 5 years, and not many can be implemented in a commercial product.”.

“When we started Tesla in 2003, the batteries were just good enough, but what we had noticed was that they got better at about 7% to 8% a year, and had for a long time,” says Marc Tarpenning, a co-founder of the company. “It’s been 19 years, and we still haven’t had a step change in battery capacity—it just ticks along at 7% to 8% per year.”

Although cost is a big problem in making EV’s more attractive, range is right up there as a consumer concern. Astrid wrote about range anxiety a decade ago, and it still creeps into an auto purchaser’s vocabulary. The popularity of the hybrid Toyota Prius which has unlimited range with a gas/electricity combination, shows this point.

Putting half a million charging stations on the street will help. But folks are still used to filling their cars in five minutes, not an hour. Charging overnight is fine, but if you are forced to park on the street it becomes problematic.

The ‘breakthrough’ will come. It’s not ‘if’, but ‘when’.


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