The Germans are maintaining their slight lead among Europeans — ah, but hear them footsteps? Toyota is just around the corner and gaining fast. Meanwhile, Tesla has long left the building.

With just about every automaker announcing an EV offensive, the race is on to find a battery breakthrough. Never mind wringing a few more mpg from ICE cars. That’s a noble endeavor, but it’s so yesterday.

The new automotive frontier is battery range, battery charge cycles, battery charge time, battery energy density. Even Toyota, which poo-pooed EVs with a hand wave in 2013, has taken up a new hobby of staring intently at lithium ions as they charge and discharge, to better understand degradation.

That qualifies as pretty dramatic about-face, wouldn’t you say? And you know everyone else is doing similar battery tear-downs. It’s time to find out just what makes batteries tick, and then make them tick better. The good ol’ battery is about to have a renaissance. Terrific!

Ah, but this is happening under extreme duress. It’s as if a new strain of influenza has triggered alarms from the WHO and forced every labcoat warrior into the trenches. There’s not a moment to spare. This Tesla virus must be contained. If it’s allowed to spread unchecked, it will make Big Auto look like a bunch of possum’s peckers, and that ain’t pretty.


2 thoughts on ““Chaaaarrrge!”

  1. Timmy says:

    The DOE has one of the biggest, most serious programs in the country, if not the world, to look for new chemistries and kilowatt-hours. It’s called the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), and it is perhaps four years into its five-year mission. So I wouldn’t exactly say that they just threw it together in a panic recently. JCESR consists of 5 National Labs, 10 “top” universities, and 5 large industry/corporate partners. Lead by ANL, check ’em out at http://www.jcesr.org/. (I’m not sure how much progress or success they’ve had, alas.)

    IBM also had a 500-mile battery program — Lithium air? — that they started in 2012, but IIRC, it has fizzled out.

    Sakti3 was looking into solid-state Lithium batteries for many years as well, but they were bought out by Dyson, so I suspect updates will be fewer and farther between unless they do have a breakthrough.

    Bottom line(s), 1.) not everyone is panicking like Toyota might be; but also, 2.) it looks like Li-ion is going to be the chemistry and standard-bearer of choice for at least a decade, even or especially if it keeps improving 5-7% per year.


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