The Explosion of Lithium-Ion Batteries

With so many laptops, cell phones, tablets, and so on, it may seem like we’re surrounded by batteries these days. In fact, as Tesla Motors CTO JB Straubel pointed out in a recent presentation at the University of Nevada, it was these consumer electronics that brought lithium-ion battery technology up to a scale where the current EV revolution became possible. But we ain’t seen nothing yet.

As JB went on to explain, Tesla plans to put more lithium-ion battery capacity into the cars it produces in 2020 than was produced by all companies for all purposes in 2013. After talking about Tesla’s planned Model 3, an affordable yet long-range electric car, JB jumps into that topic. You can watch that part starting about 27:17 into the presentation. You can jump directly there via that link, or you can watch the entire presentation as it is embedded below.

The good news is, with a massive explosion in the production of lithium-ion batteries, it is expected costs will drop a lot. One recent report projected that battery costs would fall 40–60% by 2020. Some reports have even much more aggressive projections that that.

A few key battery companies are driving the cost drops and increased production. One is Tesla Motors of course, and its key battery partner, Panasonic — the 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize winner in the “Large Corporation” category. Others include LG Chem, Samsung, and AESC, just to name a few key companies.

The electric vehicle revolution is coming, but the core technologies and companies behind it are really the batteries and leading battery companies. Automakers can only do with cars what batteries enable. Luckily, batteries are better than ever, improving faster than ever, and growing in number faster than ever.