Is Model S going to use new version of Panasonic 18650 series battery?

Is Model S going to use new version of Panasonic 18650 series battery?

It was said with 300miles range package, Model S is equipped with Panasonic NCR18650A which is a minimum 2.9AH lithium-ion battery. But Panasonic promised two different versions of this 18650A. Both versions will in-cooperate better production/construction of the battery without significant changes in the chemistry of the batteries. This will lead to a higher energy-density-to-volume but energy-density-to-weight will remain the same. The new battery, which is supposed to come out in March 2013, will have phenomenal 735wh/L. So will Model S be re-modeled with the new battery once they are available?

Timo | April 20, 2011

90kWh around 8000 batteries @3.6V makes single battery ~3.1Ah. That's the battery they will be using. There is a prototype for 3.4Ah battery, but that is probably not into market before 2013 or late in 2012. Panasonic is also developing batteries beyond 4Ah, so future for those battery packs looks promising.

blackscraper | April 21, 2011

Thanks Timo for the information. Yes, 90kWh around 8000 batteries @3.6V makes single battery ~3.1Ah is the 18650A I was talking about. This battery has a nominal 3.1AH and minimum 2.9AH which, as per Tesla, makes the 8000 batteries package a 85KWH one. The 4AH version, as per Panasonic, will become available in March 2013. This battery, if used in Model S, will introduce more weight to the sedan, but a 1/3-longer range if Tesla does not modify the battery packaging. This 400 miles range gives me a car with far more usability as I make trips between Toronto and Ottawa quite often. 300 miles can barely get me there.

Timo | April 21, 2011

400 would be enough for me too. Distance I need is pretty exactly 600 km and 400 * 1.6 is 640. Not much error margin though. I would need to see actual distance curves like there is for Roadster before buying such thing (or a fast charger somewhere between home and destination). Also it doesn't allow any battery degradation, so maybe 500 miles is better bet for me (or that fast charger which doesn't exist yet).

Vawlkus | April 21, 2011

Tesla can't bank a battery that's still in development, because it might not deliver. Right now they need a battery that is ON the market (or at least out of prototype phase) to use in their builds and tests.

That said, the future does look promising for 500 mile plus battery packs a few years down the road with direction panasonic is galloping towards.

blackscraper | April 21, 2011

I am just casting my own thoughts. Based on the recharge time of a pure electric car, a longer range would probably be desirable than a regular gas powered car. See, most people CAN get through driving 600 miles straight. Once I drove for 1400 miles straight, but that was a bit of insane of me. We would not expect this to happen on an electric car. But I would still suppose a nominal 600 miles range would make this electric car much more realistic. 'cause 500 miles or 800KMs is a reasonable range between cities as we live on such a big land mass, and we need some error margin though. A 400 miles range car will still lead me to rent a gas powered car if I'd like to have a longer car trip somewhere. I don't want to run out of power in the middle of nowhere and wait several hours for a towing truck.

jfeister | April 21, 2011

Hopefully fast chargers will soon be available along major freeways at least once every 100 miles or so. If it does happen 300 miles is really as much as one will need. Anything more would probably not be worth the additional expense given the minimal increase in convenience.

Brian H | April 21, 2011

If you were travelling that far, and found yourself 200 miles short of your goal with 100 miles of charge left, you would just need to phone ahead to the towing company or Auto Assoc. and tell them where you plan to run out of juice so they could have their truck there waiting for you.

Ain't the digital world wunnerful?


Ramon123 | April 23, 2011

Agree with jfeister. It will be a very long time before 400 and 500 mile battery packs make any economic sense. With recharge outlets along the major interstates, 300 miles is more than enough, and 250 would do for practically everyone, since long distance travel is relatively rare. Recharges of 45 minutes make the outlook for larger battery packs rather dim, unless batteries come WAY down in price.

warthog97 | April 24, 2011

Before you call a tow truck, try the "recargo" app or I was at the Portland Model S event yesterday and one of the reps was talking about the app. After downloading the app, I discovered about 10 recharging stations withing 3 miles of our event. There are more charging stations than you think, and a quick charge takes about 45 minutes. Also, the recharging cables are built into the station, so you're not using your $1500 cable.

blackscraper | April 26, 2011

Thx guys for the input

hwye81k | April 26, 2011

warthog97: Thanks for the info on charging stations. I heard that too at the Portland event, but I forgot to ask for the the web address.

Ramon123 | July 20, 2011

Just read that Panasonic developing 4.0AH 18650 due out in 2013.

Nicu | July 20, 2011

4Ah will be for the sport version : more expensive but able to be sucked hard :)

William13 | July 20, 2011

I agree with nicu, the 4.0 will likely be used in a sports version and the model x. Maybe future model s.

Actually they had announced prototyping 4.0 about 6 months ago. This is good news that it will reach production.

MTriantafelow | July 21, 2011

Even if a battery with that kind of range did exist, it'd be cheaper to just rent a ICE the one or two times a year that you need to make such a long trip, rather than pay for such a huge battery.

Timo | July 21, 2011

Who says that battery price increases? That's still just single cylindrical cell, just about twice the capacity of the Roadster battery. It doesn't cost any more to make those than it takes to make the lesser batteries.

Roadster with those would have 500 mile range. If I had chance to buy EV I would choose the one with 500 mile range over 300 mile version. And I would be doing over 300 mile trips a lot more than twice a year.

Brian H | July 22, 2011

The other option is to use fewer cells for the same charge/range. That would lighten the car and increase mileage, and thus add more range than the simple charge ratio might suggest.

Timo | July 22, 2011

And also increase performance, when half of the pack is gone (instead of 450kg you have 225kg pack). That kind of weight loss would feel in cornering and acceleration.

DC | July 22, 2011

I disagree with the notion that charging is the solution over longer range battery packs. Maybe these people don't make long trips very often, but there are a lot of people that do, and while the fast charging is nice, 45 minutes is still a long time. I think the best thing to do is to increase the range as much as possible. Obviously you won't be able drive across the country on one charge, but it would be nice to be able to drive at least 6hrs straight on one charge. Keep in mind that when making long trips you are most likely going to be on highways going at speeds of 60-80mph, so you'll need more than a 420 mile pack to get 6hrs of driving. The range of the pack is based on a mix of city and highway driving, so if you doing straight highway for 4+ hrs your range is going to be reduced quite a bit. I would probably be comfortable with a 500+ mile pack, which I realize will take some time, but I have time to wait.

Brian H | July 22, 2011

Hey, if the Stanford & MIT guesstimates of 10X the charge capacity for some of their new nano-cathode/anode designs and internal "banding" hold up, you might end up with a car with 4000 mi range, enough to go coast-to-coast and home again!

Timo | July 22, 2011

That was few years ago, now it is more like 5x capacity (when that silicon nanowire was introduced we were at around 100Wh/kg densities, now there are batteries already at labs with 500Wh/kg). Power density probably could go like 100x in couple of years though.

Nicu | July 22, 2011

Advances in mass manufactured batteries are very very slow. We are about 4x in a century for the power density. We are not going to see 10x in less than a decade by any tech. If you want to get more education (and bearish views on Tesla), I recommend to read some of the blog entries of John Petersen

Nicu | July 22, 2011

Sorry, that would be energy density.

EdG | July 22, 2011

I started reading through your reference:

I don't know where this guy is coming from, but the first table shows something crazy:
He assumes 12,500 miles per year for 10 years for 125,000 miles. Then he says the Roadster's battery pack is 56kWh. Fine. But then he divides the two, and claims that because the Roadster has more battery capacity than a Camry Hybrid, the Camry is therefore more efficient than a Roadster.

I think the guy must have failed whatever science courses he ever took, and is trying to make a name for himself by making up calculations. Does he really think the Roadster would be more efficient if it had 1/10 the battery capacity?

Timo | July 22, 2011

@Nicu, it doesn't look like that advances in mass-production battery tech is slow. Look at the pace Panasonic is keeping up. In just three years we have come from Roadster 2.1Ah batteries to 3.7Ah batteries, and next step is already ready for next year (4.0Ah). That's just four, maybe five years to nearly double the capacity. If the pace stays the same we have that 10x batteries in less than next five years (we are already way higher than we were when Standford released that silicon nanowire article).

Thing is that just about everything that runs on rechargeable batteries from mobile phones to emotor assisted bicycles is now using lithium-ion tech, and whatever manufacturer has best batteries is the market leader, which causes real "arms race" for them. When there is potential to improve as much as there is and free market is giving the motivation development is fast.

Batteries are currently developing fast. It would be fast even with zero development in electric cars, but now the tech is allowing us to have decent electric cars, and that is one major player more in the field of battery development motivators.

Nicu | July 22, 2011

J.P. looks at the problem from a different point of view. He says that Li-ion batteries use large quantities of non ferrous metals which are scarce (production which is 2-3 orders of magnitude less than oil). So he compares (in one of the articles) how much gas one cans save per kWh of battery used in the car (as batteries are / will be scarce). He concludes that the Prius or other hybrids are more a more efficient use of batteries (from a global point of view, if we only had a definite amount of total supply of them).

4Ah will be heavier so it's not quite 2x improvement. They will also be more than 50% (or so) of the theoretical limit of the chemistry. So assuming even another 2x improvement would be silly. Of course there will be other chemistries, but they will come with their own problems (cycle life, price, safety, manufacturing etc.). The global problem of green transportation is much more complex than one could think reading only Tesla's website. BTW, when reading the "go electric" efficiency page, I spotted some "errors" that Tesla just "forgets" to mention : they only consider electricity from natural gas even if we know the actual mix is quite coal heavy in US; they forget to mention there is a loss while charging (only consider well-to-station, not well-to-tank / battery); they forget to mention there is a loss from station to your house electric outlet; they use an over-optimistic 9 km / kWh (or 110 Wh / km) which a simple computation shown does not even hold for the Roadster, let alone for the heavier Model S.

All that said, I think both the Roadster and Model S are a step in the right direction - I am quite heavily invested in TSLA calls and I hope to buy a Model S with some of the profits. But the road to oil independence and green transportation will be much harder and slower than most think. Why do you think the blue star has "slipped" from 2015 to 2016-2017 (some recent interview / article) ?

Timo | July 22, 2011

Silicon (which Panasonic isn't using) is the one with 10x capacity max, and that is only matter of changing chemistry. I bet they are researching it right now, because as I said whoever leads the tech is the market leader. If chemistry change is needed to provide that leadership they do it, and they do it ASAP. This is not a century of lead-acid techs with just few applications, this is modern pace with zillion applications pushing the tech and several major steps in material sciences making it possible to get it better. Old rules do not apply anymore. Nanotechs are revolutionizing everything.

Completely different situation than it was just 15 years ago. Battery powered drill for example was rarity then. Now those are everywhere. Electric law movers. Electric bikes. Mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, even wireless keyboards and mouses.

I don't think my estimate of five years with x6 of the Roadster battery density is optimistic. It might actually be higher than that by then.

We'll see. Lets wait for few years to see what happens.

William13 | July 22, 2011

Roadster 2.1Ah batteries were one generation old in 2006. Thus probably came out in 2004. The 4.0Ah is coming out in 2013.

The math equals a doubling time for w/kg of longer than ten years.

I hope that progress continues exponentially.

EdG | July 22, 2011

Nicu: Thanks for the clarification, but as Timo implied, his calculation is based on today's chemistry and assuming that the whole world will be racing forward to use up all the lithium (or other limited resource). What would he say if someone invented a battery that continually recycled his favored petroleum products, or, perhaps simpler, water to its constituents?

His is an interesting argument, but it's not clear it will hold up.

Nicu | July 23, 2011

I actually battle J.P. on his blog for being too pessimistic. But he worked in the industry (energy / bio fuels/ nano tech / batteries / energy storage / mining / oil) for 30 years. And his experience tells him that 99% of new tech discovered in labs do not make it to the market. And for those 1% that do, it takes decades. We are a bit fooled by the progress of processors and digital gizmos, but batteries are ruled by chemistry laws, not physics. For example, nanotech in Li-ion, only improves the power density, not the energy density (more surface for electrodes for exchanges). Mass manufacturing is incredibly hard. Metal prices have increased faster than oil prices historically.

So there are many speed bumps and traps but I still remain optimistic that solutions will be found. Just not so fast as we think.

Timo | July 23, 2011

You are very wrong in saying that nanotech doesn't increase energy density, that is what everyone is using to get as big energy density as possible in labs. More surface area for lithium-ions to attach. Actually increasing power density with nanotech is very recent development, so you got those two backwards.

For lithium being limited resource, there is way more than enough lithium in the world to change every vehicle to battery power, and it is recycleable resource, not like oil which we stupidly burn. There is no "peak lithium" anywhere close. Tesla has already planning to recycle the batteries including lithium in them (read the blog post about it).

Nicu | July 23, 2011

Lithium is not the constraint. Other metals that get into the battery are. And from recycling, only the Chrome is recovered. All other metals in the battery are too cheap and too hard to extract. Take time to learn before you start throwing stones.

Timo | July 23, 2011

Silicon and carbon? Those rare metals that are used in current generation of batteries are rare, I agree, but silicon is something you pick up when you pick up a sand from your courtyard. That's one additional vote for using silicon-based chemistry. Iron phosphate battery chemistry also isn't using any rare metals (LiFePO4). That's what you find in Altairnano and A123 batteries.

Lithium can be recycled, that's the point of recycling the lithium batteries.

Read the Blog entry:

I throw the ball back to you: Take time to learn before you start throwing stones.

Nicu | July 23, 2011

From what you cite, A123 are the most advanced towards mass production. They cost over $1000 / kWh to produce. Tesla gets its pack at under $300 / kWh, possibly under $200 / kWh. You should read precisely what is recycled. Go to Umicore web page and find out that "all the aluminum is valorised in the slag and re-used in construction and/or aggregate for concrete". This means it becomes the walls of the house, but is not going back to the battery industry (or any metal industry for that matter). Do not get fooled by marketing phrases like "closed loop".

In Appendix F of this document
you can see that less than 1% of Li is recycled globally (as well as other "speciality" metals).
Al and Cu are around 50%.

Long term, we will find solutions. Short term, do not be gullible for all the marketing talk, even if it comes from Tesla. I have already pointed out 3-4 "errors" in their efficiency page.

Timo | July 23, 2011

You are stuck in past. Tesla is talking about future as am I. Recycling is possible, that is the aim for them, and that's the point of the blog and what I'm saying. The fact that recycling currently is basically nonexistent doesn't mean that it can't be done.

I agree that there are errors in efficiency page, easiest to spot is the Wh car uses / km, that isn't realistic unless you use city speeds as base for that calculation. I have noticed the same errors and have also told Tesla about those. Unfortunately they are still there. OTOH, I haven't seen any page anywhere that is really realistic about EV efficiency compared to other vehicles, all of them make up numbers, make unwarranted assumptions or have plain errors in their calculations. Many have strong bias to one or other direction.

Nicu | July 23, 2011

Everything is possible. I am a very optimistic, but I try to stay in the domain of possible when it comes to timeframes. And I like provoking interesting discussions by playing devil's advocate.

Timo | July 24, 2011

That's what I started to suspect. I was also getting a bit tired about this "argument", so I'm glad that its finished.

Just FYI there is substantial lithium deposit in the Finland, something like two million tons in just one place, if recent dig reports is to be believed, and there are more than one in Finland.

I think there is more than enough lithium around the world and the reason it looks rare is that it just haven't been previously searched. Lithium usage besides of batteries is almost zero, and whole lithium ion batteries is relatively new.

Nicu | July 24, 2011

Yes, even in Li-ion batteries, the usage of Li is quite low (as % of weight). The problem is with the other metals. If we increase battery production very fast, metal prices will shoot up too. It seems that from known resource to mined metal it takes even longer and more investments than for oil (about 10 years - mining is harder than pumping). Recycling facilities will also take many years (and money and company failures) to establish. It will be done eventually, I'm sure. It's just that we have to adjust our expectations about how and when.

As for Tesla, they already have the tech to be successful in the high end market, that means to be profitable immediately, beginning of 2013. The market is quite slow to predict / see the future, but it can actually see about 6 months in advance. That's why I am quite heavily invested in TSLA calls. They "just" have to excel on execution (no delays, nu price hikes, no product problems - that's quite a bet !). If those conditions are satisfied, I'm very confident I will buy my Model S sport only from profits from those calls. If everything goes well with Model S, Model X, the cabriolet, the new roadster and the utility van, we will know much better what are their chances to the real mass market, around 2015. That will be quite a different investment story.

Brian H | July 24, 2011

Timo, I agree with what you've posted, except for one item that surprised me. Could you supply a link to some kind of image, to help me visualize?

"Electric law movers."


Timo | August 31, 2011

That kolibri-battery is still in rumor-stage. No real specs can be found anywhere. I hope it isn't just another EESTOR.

jackhub | August 31, 2011

MIT's Technology Review- August 2011 issue, discusses development of a new compound for making electrodes that increases the area exposed for the transfer of electrons thereby speeding up the charging cycle. Essentially the electrodes are made of a foam-like nano scale material. The design is compatible with a wide range of battery types including lithium. To quote "Cell phones incorporating this technology could recharge in 30 seconds, and electric cars could recharge in the time it takes to fill a gas tank." Of course the issue, as always, is scaling up for mass production.

David M. | August 31, 2011

Assuming price is a factor, if anyone needs to make lots of long road trips (300+ mi), I would highly recommend renting or owning an ICE car just for that purpose. Even hybrids won't help you get better fuel economy on the highway. Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole.

An Audi A3 wagon or VW Golf or Jetta, or Hyundai Elantra will all get more than 40mpg on the highway. So you could cover 300 miles with about 8 gallons of fuel. Why pay nearly $100K for a cutting edge EV when you can rent one of these cars for $40 a day?

Personally I would just buy the Audi A3 and use it for all trips over 200 mi. I'd use my Model S for everything else.

Larry Chanin | August 31, 2011

"Personally I would just buy the Audi A3 and use it for all trips over 200 mi. I'd use my Model S for everything else."

Hi David,

I was thinking along those lines. So which battery pack option are you considering?

With future battery advancements continuing to lower the costs while increasing performance, I'm leaning toward going with the 160 mile range battery pack and saving the extra $20,000 for future battery upgrades down the road.


David M. | September 1, 2011

btw, Those ICE cars I mentioned (except Elantra) only get 40mpg with a diesel engine. For regular gas, my choice would be the Lexus CT200h, which gets 40mpg highway, and 42mpg combined. It's about $30K.

My Model S battery choice will be the 300, unless Tesla stock doesn't rise above $35 in the next year. I'm counting on TSLA stock price gains to pay for battery upgrades.

Most of my driving in Florida is highway, at a posted speed of 70mph. At that speed, overall range will probably be reduced by at least 20%. Since we're talking about Florida, the AC will be on the whole time, reducing range by another 5%. So my 300 mile battery will have an effective range of about 230 miles with mostly highway driving.

That will allow me to make round-trips to Tampa & Orlando without recharging. I could also (barely) make it to Miami one way, for service if Tesla doesn't open another store near Tampa/Sarasota.

Larry Chanin | September 1, 2011

Hi David,

You make a lot of good points. I especially like the idea of driving to Orlando and back on a charge.

I was more seriously considering upgrading the battery pack to make it to the Dania, Florida store for service. However, Will, the store manager, mentioned that the car will probably come with a 5 year, 50,000 mile warranty which would include the fee for the Rangers to make the trip to Sarasota. (The service would still be $600, but we would avoid more that $400 in Ranger fees while under warranty.) In the 8 years that I've lived in Sarasota I've only put 55,000 miles on my car so I might never need to drive to Dania for service. In five years when the warranty runs out I would expect that the battery technology would be much more reasonably priced and $10,000 to $20,000 would buy me a lot more range.

Nigel mentioned that he thinks there are about a dozen Roadster owners in Sarasota, so when you add the Sarasota Model S owners we might be able to make a compelling argument to Tesla to open another store nearby.


Larry Chanin | September 1, 2011

Hi David,

As a follow-up to my remark,

"In five years when the warranty runs out I would expect that the battery technology would be much more reasonably priced and $10,000 to $20,000 would buy me a lot more range.",

if the Wall Street Times article quoted earlier has any credibility then the extra 140 mile range that costs $20,000 could be achieved at a cost of $2,200 using the Kolibri advanced design batteries.

I know that Timo puts this still in the rumor stage, but it gives us food for thought regarding upcoming battery advancements and our initial battery pack selection. As pointed out by the thread starter, Tesla's collaboration with Panasonic also points to relatively near-term improvements.

This Breakthrough Will Soon Slash EV Prices Drastically


Larry Chanin | September 1, 2011

Hi David,

I hope others won't mind a slight off-topic remark.

"That will allow me to make round-trips to Tampa & Orlando without recharging."

"I especially like the idea of driving to Orlando and back on a charge."

Check out this development.

Despite No Electric Cars, Orlando Installs Hundreds of Charge Stations


David M. | September 2, 2011

There ate only three types of places on Orlando where charging stations would be used the most. Hotels, theme parks, and places of work, for employees. in cases your car is parked for eight or more hours.

Larry Chanin | September 2, 2011

Hi David,

Try entering Orlando, Fl at this website:

You'll find 20-30 public charging locations depending on the mileage radius entered. My wife and I love to stay at the Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge. The map application says that there's a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant with 24 hour public charging, level 1 and 2 just a couple of miles away.