Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk has named 300 miles, or close to 500km, as the “new normal” for electric vehicle range, and the “standard expectation” of electric vehicle drivers.
Speaking at an investor briefing after the company’s Q2 2020 results announcement, Musk said the company was continually working with its partners on making improvements to battery cells and battery packs to lower costs and boost the range of growing fleet of electric vehicles.
“With regard to passenger vehicles, I think the new normal for range is going to be … you know, approximately 300 miles,” Musk told the webcast briefing.
“So I think people will really come to expect …[that] as normal, you know, that’s the standard expectation. Because you do need to take into account, you know, is it very hot outside, or is it cold, or are you driving up a tall mountain with a full load.
“People don’t want to get to their destination with 10 miles range. They want some reasonable margins. So I think 300 (miles), close to 300, is going to be the new normal. Close to 500km, basically.”
Musk said that the Model 3 EVs being made in China at the Shanghai gigafactory were achieving a range of almost 300 miles with a phosphate battery pack, taking into account “a whole bunch” of powertrain and other vehicle efficiencies.
“What we’re seeing with our passenger vehicles is power train efficiency and tyre efficiency, drag coefficiency… Basically our total vehicle efficiency has gotten good enough, with the Model 3 for example, that we actually are comfortable having an iron phosphate battery pack in Model 3 in China – that’ll be in volume production later this year.
“So we think that getting a range that is … almost 300 miles with a phosphate pack, taking into account a whole bunch of powertrain and other vehicle efficiencies. And that frees up a lot of capacity for things like the Tesla Semi and other products that require high range density.”
Producing battery cells – with a focus on either lithium-iron phosphate or nickel-based technology – at an affordable price was pinpointed by Musk as the “real limitation” on the company’s continued growth, both for its energy division and for EVs.
“We’re going to talk a lot more about this on Battery Day because there are some fundamental scaling constraints,” he told the briefing.
“Any part of that supply chain, at the cell level, will be a limiting factor. From mining to refining… to cathode and anode formation, cell formation.
“Whatever the choke point is, that will stunt the growth rate. And so we expect to expand our business with Panasonic, with CATL, with LG, possibly with others, and you know there’s a lot more to say on that on battery day.”
In terms of achieving even higher range from EV battery packs, however, Musk suggested that the future lay with higher density nickel-based technologies. And he even made a pitch for resources companies to come to the party.
“Please mine more nickel,” Musk said. “Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way.”
Read about Tesla’s newly announced plans to build a Gigafactory in Austin Texas, here.