Tesla is the market leader thanks to its longer range. It can cover a larger distance on a full charge compared to other electric cars. However, there are some risks that Tesla is taking with this strategy.
The Tesla Model S can travel around 370 miles on a full charge. This is about the distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Competitor models from companies like Nissan, Jaguar, and Chevrolet can manage around 240 miles.
This is approximately the distance between Washington DC and New York. Some individual models can manage almost 260 miles. However, many other models are barely managing 200 miles on a full charge.
Tesla is leading the electric vehicle market with its high-powered batteries. However, there are more risks inherent to such technology.
For over a decade now, Tesla has been manufacturing electric vehicles from the ground up. The automaker also designs software to increase the efficiency of its batteries.
Why is tesla better than other electric cars?
Tesla vehicles have better aerodynamics because they have done away with many luxury features that increase weight.
For example, they don’t use multi-gear transmission. Instead, dual motors are used that are programmed to transmit different power levels to the rear and front wheels.
Tesla is also taking more risks compared to other automakers. As a result of this strategy, its batteries can store more charge. Its materials are also different from its competitors.
However, there have been a number of spontaneous battery fires that federal agencies are investigating.
And since Tesla is so new, it is hard to tell how durable its vehicles will be. The oldest Tesla sedans are no more than eight years old. But then it is hard to tell for any new vehicle how long it will last.
Thanks to its long battery range, Tesla has consolidated its share over the market. In the first nine months of 2019, Tesla accounted for 60 percent of electric vehicle sales.
Since the past year, at least four car companies have entered the US market. Hence, Tesla will now face more competition.
Although Tesla batteries have a long range, it remains to be seen how long they will last. However, given that Tesla has taken more risk than its competitors, there is no telling how long durable these batteries are.
Tesla has taken the lead in the market by going further than its competitors. However, what consequences there are for such a strategy is still unclear.
However, Tesla is not the only electric vehicle manufacturer whose batteries are under scrutiny. Nissan had to change its batteries after they were found to degrade rapidly on its Leaf models. These batteries have a much shorter life, especially in warm weather.
Audi also faced battery problems. The manufacturer had to recall its SUVs in the previous year because moisture seeping into its battery packs could create a fire hazard. The automaker later explained that the problem was due to a glitch in the wiring harness.
General Motors was also under investigation by federal regulators owing to battery fire risks in its vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt hybrid. GM has agreed to resolve the issue.
Tesla was the pioneering company that popularised electric vehicles. In 2008, it launched its electric vehicle at a time when car companies were focusing on hybrids.
In 2012, the company launched the Model S, which is its flagship. The Model 3 was launched in 2017, which is a more affordable vehicle.
Recently, Tesla’s market capitalization touched $87 billion, more than General Motors and Ford’s value. Tesla is now expanding fast in the Chinese market.
But people are buying the Tesla not just because it has a longer range on average. Other car features have made Tesla popular, like the Autopilot, which can steer cars on highways and change lanes as well.
Tesla cars also look better than its electric vehicle rivals from other manufacturers. Thanks to its design philosophy, Tesla has given up several traditional features to improve aerodynamics.
Tesla has also worked to reduce the likelihood of its batteries running out of charge during a journey. Its batteries are kept under the floor of the car’s main body. This key development will help to reduce anxiety concerning range.
Investment in Battery Research and Technology
The California-based company has invested heavily in battery research and technology. The previous year, Tesla announced that it would buy Maxwell Technologies. This firm has developed breakthrough storage technology and is focused on improving battery density.
In 2015, Tesla signed an agreement with professor Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University, a well-known battery researcher. Under the agreement, lithium-ion batteries will be made at a lower cost and with better storage density.
The improvements that Tesla has made to its battery technology means that it has the highest energy density. This is the energy amount stored in a given battery unit.
Tesla commenced its Gigafactory in Nevada in 2016. This battery-making plant became the leading producer of car batteries in 2018, according to Tesla.
Panasonic makes the battery cells which are then assembled into modules and packs for Tesla vehicles.
Rival electric vehicle manufacturers have also made contracts with battery production companies.
For example, General Motors announced last year that it is launching a joint venture with LG Chem of South Korea to start a battery production unit in Ohio.
Steady Improvements to Battery Technology
Tesla has been able to achieve a long battery range due to several improvements over time. One of these improvements is the decision to use dual motors to power the back and front wheels.
It has improved its technology by understanding how the two motors can interact for greater power. This depends on the power ratio between the back and front wheels for the best range, power, acceleration, and control.
Tesla cars are internet-connected and thus have provided it with a large amount of data on these key matters to drive further improvements.
Tesla has been improving its electric vehicles for a longer time than any other automaker. That means it has been researching its electric vehicle technology for a substantial amount of time.
During this time, they have also sourced from different to further improve their technology.
Higher energy density in batteries is the key to improving the range in electric vehicles. More energy density can mean more range and better efficiency from the same battery pack.
Tesla’s Higher Energy Density
Here is an example to show why Tesla leads others in battery technology. The energy density in the Tesla Model 3 is 24% higher than the 2018 Nissan Leaf.
When you factor in weight and other considerations, it becomes clear why the Tesla Models 3’s range is 90 miles higher than the Nissan Leaf. However, one thing to bear in mind is that the Nissan Leaf also has a smaller battery size.
The aluminium battery chemistry that Tesla uses is also different compared to other manufacturers. Tesla’s decision to go for different battery chemistry is also vital for improving range.
Although the range is maximized with this battery technology, there is also a higher risk of fire and shorter battery life. Other manufacturers are using manganese technology instead of aluminum which has less energy density but longer battery life.
However, fewer battery cycles for Tesla does not necessarily mean that its life will be shorter. This is due to the longer range, which means that it will need to be charged less often.
However, higher energy density and output means Tesla batteries generate more heat. As a result, more advanced cooling systems are required to preserve Tesla batteries.
Impact of Range on Life Cycle
Those concerned about the fewer cycles that Tesla batteries have should also consider the higher range. More range means that batteries will have to be charged less often. This should allay concerns over cycle life.
Thanks to the 300-mile range that Tesla batteries achieve, the company can use materials with shorter cycle life.
In addition, Tesla also uses an active cooling system to improve battery life. Larger batteries have to be charged a fewer number of times for the same distance travelled.
However, as batteries become older, they become less powerful. This can have consequences for driving. Acceleration will decline because the batteries cannot put out as much power as they did previously.
The range will also decrease while the charging time will go up. The available power will be less. All these factors will adversely influence the driving experience.
Software Updates and Range
Tesla owners are reporting problems with batteries as their cars get older. Some of these complaints are aimed at software updates that have reduced the range of vehicles.
Previous year in April, Tesla pushed an update which meant to improve battery life and protect it from certain issues. Due to this update, there was a substantial reduction in the range.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that it is investigating Model X SUVs and Model S Sedans after the Tesla owner filed a petition complaining about the reduced range.
These owners say that the updates have reduced the driving range of these vehicles.
Tesla Car Fires
A class-action lawsuit has also been filed against Tesla. The petition alleged that the software update was aimed at a possible defect that could result in spontaneous fires.
Instead of issuing a software update, there should have been a recall, according to the petition. The petition cited the high-profile car fires as the possible reason for these updates.
Many of these fires were spontaneous. Some of these fires have been shown on social media. In one case, a parked Tesla Model S caught fire in a garage in Shanghai. In another video, Model S caught fire while it was being driven in Los Angeles.
There have also been reports that the battery packs have caught fire as a result of crashes. As a result of one car wreck, a family in South Florida has sued the company claiming that the batteries were defective.
The firm that represented them has said that there are several cases where models Model S batteries have caught fire either while parked or after a collision.
Tesla has defended itself by saying that its cars were far less likely to catch fire than gasoline-powered vehicles. However, due to the concentrated heat build-up, fighting these fires can be harder.
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To conclude, we can say that at present, Tesla is researching and improving its battery technology. Only time will tell how long its batteries can last.
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