NEC improves Li-Ion capacity by 30% - Panasonic?

NEC improves Li-Ion capacity by 30% - Panasonic?

NEC has announced a new formulation that can increase the range of EVs by up to 30%. If Panasonic can do the same, my (upcoming P5058) 60kWh Model S could near 300 miles (230 mi range estimated x 30% = 299). Even at a real-world 200 miles, we could be talking about 260 miles with such a battery.

petero | 10/10/2012

Mklcolvin. Quoting the article, “Commercialisation is targeted within two years, the Nikkei reports.” I suspect your “S” will be ready to deliver by March 2013, perhaps sooner.

marek.koenig | 10/10/2012

Don't expect these batteries to make it into a production vehicle for at least 3 years. It takes time to test and certify battery packs.

petero | 10/10/2012

It is nice to see that R&D is starting to show results already. My question is, “with 30% increase in capacity,” will TM increase the range or reduce the battery pack (smaller / lighter)?

mrspaghetti | 10/10/2012


I'd guess they'd increase range, since even the Model S is still not at the same range you'd get in an ICE with a full tank. Once they hit parity with that it will make sense to shrink and/or lighten the battery with future improvements.

dahtye | 10/10/2012

A 30% increase in 300 mile range is 390 miles....this is darn near the range of an ICE vehicle with similar performance.

I'd actually like to see 500 to 600 mile range then we don't need to rely so much on the Supercharger network.

mbcaffe | 10/10/2012

IBM is working on a 500 mile range battery. I hope they are successful. there are are other links out there. I just picked this one.

GLO | 10/10/2012

This harkens back to other threads on changing out your battery for a longer range one. By the time, we are ready for the next car, these I feel will be a reality.

mrspaghetti | 10/10/2012

I predict we'll see huge range increases over the next decade or two.

Aleksandyr | 10/10/2012

the deal with panasonic probably locks TM into the current battery til 2014. essentially the packs are bought and spoken for

DouglasR | 10/10/2012

When you think about it, charging time is at least as important as range. A battery that can be quickly charged would not have to have more than 300 - 400 miles of range to give you the equivalent of ICE convenience, whereas even with extended range, a slow-charging battery is less convenient than an ICE. The problem, of course, is that old formula, Watts = Volts x Amps. Unless general public charging stations can operate at higher voltages and amperage, charging will always be relatively slow.

petero | 10/10/2012

DouglasR. When I think about it, I try to think electric not gasoline. Kind of like my phone. I use my phone for a given amount of time a day, plug in at night and I am good to go tomorrow. Most commutes are well within the range, so ... commute and recharge. Extended drives are a different story and your analysis is valid. What percent of your trips are extended?

It will take years (perhaps 4-5) before faster charging (other than TM's SC system) is commonplace. Same for greater range. As I see it, the next battery upgrade may be for the Gen III and its' variants. This new battery technology may or may not be compatible with the "S."

mrspaghetti | 10/10/2012

@DouglasR "Watts = Volts x Amps"

I think this should've been posted by Ohm's Law :)

[Note to Brian H: I'm aware that Ohm's Law is actually I=V/R. This post is a joke.]

DouglasR | 10/10/2012


I'd like to think electric, but I suspect I'm like most of the people purchasing the Model S: I don't feel comfortable enough with the charging options to give up my ICE altogether. You are right, most of my trips are local (and for those I generally take the bus, which here in Seattle is electric). But when my wife and I started seriously talking about getting this car, we were drawn to the idea of taking more car trips. The supercharger network makes that a real possibility, but a more widespread fast charging infrastructure would allow us to rely totally on electric transportation.

Dr. Bob Reinke | 10/10/2012

MIT has developed a super cap that can hold 5 to 8 times the power as LI-ION bat of the same size and weighing only 33% of battery. The huge advantage of capacitors is that their charge time is limited only by the availablity of electrons. If the power source is large enough--prehaps another capacitor of greater charge, the recharging would be in the blink of an eye: however, the inital connection would have the bang of a DB shotgun. Price yet unknown, but 3-5 years to manufacturing. Would give my Model S a 2400 mile range.

Brian H | 10/10/2012

Dr. Bob;
Did you check SIZE? You know, physical dimensions? Caps are light BIG compared to batteries -- imagine a Model S with room for 2, the rest of the space filled with capacitors.

Time is only significant on road trips. Charging overnight at home and NEVER having to go to a gas station is a net time saver for most people.

But what kind of "not compatible" could there be? Electrons have no proprietary specs.

I believe TM has specifically denied any such restrictions. It will use better batteries as they reach stable and proven status; it estimates about an 8%/annum compounding improvement rate. (Real world experience to date is about 17%, though.)

MIT, IBM, and Stanford are a few of the places with potential major step changes in the works, some claiming they are ready and cheap to implement in current factories.

DouglasR | 10/10/2012

Brian H,

True, time is most important on road trips, but road trips are currently the principal weakness of BEVs, even the Model S, compared to ICE. And if you don't care about road trips, why care about range?

Tiebreaker | 10/10/2012

The beauty of the electric drive is that it doesn't care about the source of the electrons. Batteries today. Ultra-capacitors tomorrow. Fuel cells next week. Mr. Fusion next month.

Brian H | 10/10/2012

Yes, restricting the issue to road trips, that's fair comment. At what point (time discrepancy) does it have a practical effect? Marathon driving allows for little discrepancy; other schedules allow for "breaks", snacks, bathroom stops, and lunches and so there would be less added time, perhaps none (using SC).

mklcolvin | 10/10/2012


Actually I was thinking about what we could reasonably expect when it's time to replace the batteries in our Model S'... It would be nice to just replace the battery pack and get a greater range than what was spec'd for the original car!

kalikgod | 10/10/2012

The other reason for more "range"; Range is directly related to capacity, which is directly related to cycling of the pack.

Larger range packs cycle less even for daily commuting. The end result is a longer battery life (by miles). It is reflected in TM's battery warranty.

DouglasR | 10/10/2012

Brian H,

I agree that so long as you are traveling along the SC network, charging time is not an issue. I'm long past the age when I felt up to driving non-stop with a diaper and a jumbo bag of cheetos. But there will not be a supercharger everywhere I want to go, at least not for a long time. And most cars will not be able to use the SC network. My point is that for BEVs generally, finding a faster way to charge is at least as important as developing batteries with greater capacity.

petero | 10/10/2012

We are at the beginning of the EV journey. The original ICE cars had to buy their gasoline at pharmacies - Not very convenient for a cross country jaunt. It took decades to build the gasoline station infrastructure. TM has really raised the bar. If you owned a Leaf, Coda, Mitsi, we wouldn’t be having this conversation AND you would never consider anything more than your daily commute. Like it or not, IMO, there is still room in my family for an ICE. Over the years it will get less use but for now it will be my occasional crutch.

You may not like this but...

Mklcolvin. IMO. TM will improve their batteries. More: power range, faster charge, smaller, lighter. New vehicle designs will incorporate the smaller-lighter technology. How that will this translate to the original skateboard configuration remains to be seen, especially if TM changes the battery for future “S/X.” At the very least, TM will either make themselves or contract with a 3rd party to provide replacement batteries for “S / X” platforms. There is no guarantee that these replacement batteries will offer greater range, power, or be cheaper. The only guarantee you have is they will be available.
I expect the charging systems-charging infrastructure to stay compatible in the future even if the battery changes.

Timo | 11/10/2012

30% compared to what? That's what bugs me in these articles, they never provide real figures, just "increases".

This shampoo washes your hair 30% better... than water?

Current Model S Panasonic batteries are AFAIK their 3.1Ah batteries. Panasonic has 4.0Ah batteries ready any day now. That's 23% improvement. If we compare these Model S batteries to Roadster 2.1Ah batteries (IIRC they are 2.1Ah) improvement is over 30%.

That's the basic rate. Around 8% improvement / year cumulative.

jerry3 | 13/10/2012


Bingo. It seems that every week there is some new battery technology reported that will make everything else obsolete. The 8% per year isn't likely to change.

Thumper | 13/10/2012

In the future, lots of batteries for cruise, a few capacitors for bursts of super acceleration, an all electric hybrid!

mrspaghetti | 13/10/2012


Interesting idea. I think you may be onto something, but I'd see the value of capacitors in their ability to charge rapidly rather than for bursts of acceleration.

So maybe a combo would let you get your first x miles recharged in the first 500 milliseconds. That might get you enough charge to make it home or to a more desirable location for a full charge. It may even lend itself to a "drive over" charging solution such that you don't have to get out of the car or even stop, if all you want is the capacitors topped off.

ChasF | 14/10/2012

I think competition spurred by the Model S will probably accelerate EV battery technology advances beyond 8% per year going forward.

mklcolvin | 14/10/2012

I think that there's a problem in that battery companies are suffering not due to their own efforts, but because of low sales of EVs from other companies. I'm not sure whether they can do the applied research needed to translate breakthroughs in the labs to actual products that people can buy. Panasonic seems to have an advantage in it's sheer size - they're not completely dependent on EV sales, unlike A123 for example.

Tiebreaker | 14/10/2012

@ChasF +1

constraint | 14/10/2012

Is it me or do all these articles leave out the most vital information about the battery. They always seem to quote some person from GM saying that an electric car can only get ranges of x miles and this 30% increase can bring that up to Y. Electric cars are limited based on price per KwH (and weight to a lesser extent). If you want to spend an extra $5,000 for your leaf then you will have 100 mile range. If you want to spend an extra $20,000 then you will have 200 mile range (assuming $500 per kwh).

This article makes no mention of how much the battery will cost. Does a 30% increase in voltage mean a 30% increase in price (assuming this means the AH capacity is the same)? If that is the case then this is a non issue. Is this a 30 percent increase in voltage with no increase in price then this would be a big deal.

Brian H | 14/10/2012

The latter. And/or weight of battery required to hold a given charge.

Oaktowner | 14/10/2012

+1Tiebreaker for Mr. Fusion!

jerry3 | 15/10/2012


The problem is that all these 30% improvements aren't available for sale so no one knows what the price will be--it's assumed they will be no more than the battery they are comparing against. There is generally about one of these announcement per week, but rather less actual production.