Tesla Motors Inc has been praised for its open nature in recent years. The company has opened thousands of its patents to other companies and says it will even release the design of its Gigafactory 1 in order to get other companies to manufacture batteries in the same way. There’s one thing Tesla doesn’t like to share, however, and that’s battery technology.
On Friday afternoon, Tesla Motors announced an upgrade to its premium cars that would see them go from 0 to 100 km / h in just 2.8 seconds. The horsepower of the most expensive Model S now compares to some of the more expensive production cars in the world. Tesla has only lightly referenced how he got there, however.
Put silicon in a battery
During the Ludicrous event, Mr. Musk said the company was successful in increasing the peak voltage by putting silicon in the cell. “This is a small step in the direction of using silicon in the anode, but we will be increasing the use,” he told those at the July 17 call.
More than Quartz today Steve Levine delved into the science behind introducing silicon into a Li-ion cell. This is a big step that has been made impossible until now because the silicon swells in an active battery, causing it to rupture. Tesla Motors has overcome this problem, and it marks a change in the way the company does business.
Tesla Motors burst onto the scene with the promise that it was only using generic Li-ion cells in the Model S. The cells are called 18650 and they are used in laptop batteries and other applications. mainstream for years.
Returning to the revelation from PowerWall, the company’s home power store, Mr Musk said the batteries use new battery chemistry and changes in basic cell design are still coming.
Elon Musk and the Power Cell team at Tesla Motors have clearly rethought this tactic. In order for Model S to go further and faster, something more was needed.
Now, the company is working with very different power cells than the ones used in older versions of the Model S, but they’re not telling the world how they got there.
Hide the truth from Tesla Motors
Tesla Motors has certainly opened its patents for use by other companies last year, but much of the key technology the company operates on is not patented. When you tour the company’s facilities in Fremont, Calif., You can see how the Model S is made, and you can even see part of the Model X when production began.
You are not allowed to see the batteries assemble. Tesla’s advantage in the electric vehicle market is its batteries, and it doesn’t even own most of the patents related to cell technology.
Most of the advances in Li-Ion technology predate Tesla Motors. They are owned by companies like Panasonic, which Tesla works with to make batteries suitable for its cars.
A patent expires a certain time after being filed. A trade secret can go on forever because it has never been made public in the patent system. The world’s biggest companies are teeming with these trade secrets, and some of the world’s most widely used products are built upon them.
Coca-Cola has never patented its recipe. Tesla Motors is unlikely to reveal the structure of its battery. That’s why you can’t see it made in the company’s Fremont factory.
Tesla bets on battery breakthroughs
It is not known who owns the patents relating to the introduction of silicon into the new cell, or if there is a patent. Tesla may have developed the new cell structure in-house or may have licensed it to someone else.
Tesla Motors is working on new types of celss and has made deals with some of the region’s greatest minds to spur its advance. Jeff Dahn, a Li-ion expert in Dalhouise, is now working with the company, and its research may be part of the chemistry that will make Tesla’s next generation even better.
The reasons for making better cells are clear. If Tesla Motors can increase the energy per kilogram of batteries, the Model S can go further with the same size of power pack. It could also increase the size of the packs in order to give the cars better overall range.
The latter seems to be what the company is looking for right now. The new 90D, unveiled at the same event as Ludicrous Mode, will have a range of over 300 miles. It’s an incredible feat for an electric vehicle and it’s the one making the headlines.
There are more advancements in power cell technology. Cell design could change how quickly a user can get their Model S or Model X up to full charge. There’s also the overarching issue of cost, something Tesla has made some progress in the past few months as well.
Reduce costs at Tesla Motors
Because the inner workings of the Tesla Motors energy store are secret, it’s not easy to see how far the company has come so far. We have covered the decrease in the cost of batteries in the past, and part of the reduction in those costs by the company is likely to be advancing in the technology behind the battery.
Tesla Motors is moving rapidly to reduce these costs, and the Gigafactory, due to be opened in Nevada, is designed to further increase those savings. Tesla is probably paying less than $ 180 / kWh for its cells right now, but to get a $ 35,000 Model 3 with the same margins on the road, it will have to put in more effort.
The new $ 70,000 price tag on the 70D that the company revealed at Friday’s event shows that it is lowering the cost of these batteries. After taking into account the $ 7,500 in tax rebates and tax savings, the cheapest Model S now costs just $ 52,000.
Battery technology drives Tesla
When Elon Musk, on the release of Model S, claimed to use simple cells to power his cars, he wasn’t telling the whole truth. What the company had was the best way to put normal cells in a matrix in order to make them function better.
Tesla Motors still has this power cell layout, and it’s likely to have improved it by leaps and bounds since the launch of Fremont’s first Model S in 2012. Now the company is going one step further and changing the how batteries work chemically.
Tesla Motors, despite claiming to be open, is unlikely to share any of these trade secrets with Audi, BMW, or GM anytime soon. There is no business reason why it should, and it does not hide any patents from its open license.
It’s important to remember that there are layers of meaning to everything Elon Musk says about Tesla Motors. When he said he was opening patents, he didn’t say he was hiding trade secrets. It is part of the story he tells the world, and his showmanship is one of the reasons Tesla is where it is today.