Lithium Mine To Battery Line: Tesla Battery Day And The Future Of EVs

After last year’s Tesla Battery Day presentation and the flurry of information that came out of it, [The Limiting Factor] spent many months researching the countless topics behind Tesla’s announced plans, the resource markets for everything from lithium to copper and cobalt, and what all of this means for electrical vehicles (EVs) as well as batteries for both battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and power storage.

A number of these changes are immediate, such as the use of battery packs as a structural element to save the weight of a supporting structure, while others such as the shift away from cobalt in battery cathodes being a more long-term prospective, along with the plans for Tesla to set up its own lithium clay mining operation in the US. Also impossible to pin down: when the famous ‘tabless’ 4680 cells that Tesla plans to use instead of the current 18650 cells will be mass-produced and when they will enable the promised 16% increase.

Even so, in the over 1 hour long video (also linked below after the break), the overall perspective seems fairly optimistic, with LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries also getting a shout out. One obvious indication of process to point out is that the cobalt-free battery is already used in Model 3 Teslas, most commonly in Chinese models.

15 thoughts on “Lithium Mine To Battery Line: Tesla Battery Day And The Future Of EVs

    1. It seems silly that anyone would build an EV with other kinds of li cells than LiFePO4 cells, but I suppose it’s emphasizing performance now over durability. Though, even one of the kids remote control cars we have uses an integrated LiFePO4 cell, and that’s for a toy…

      1. In my experience, LiFePO4 have much higher internal resistance so you can’t pull nearly as much current from them. I was surprised Tesla would use them since their acceleration is a feature of their brand. However, I see they are using them in cars in China, where there may be different branding.

        1. TBH the whole 0-60 thing is a party trick that is going to get old – any idiot can dump a few kW into an electric motor for 2-3 secs and post a mad time, and we’re seeing EV’s converging towards sub-10sec times which put most average ICE vehicles to shame anyway.

          As long as you can hit 60mph by the time you need to merge, a good 90% of the population will call that good enough.

          Tesla and others have very quickly hit the limits of traction/physics on the whole acceleration thing, much like ICE supercar top speeds have fairly well plateued, and honestly once you’re hitting 60mph in ~2secs there’s only so much more to be gained, certainly that anyone really cares about.

      1. Hopefully they weren’t wasting their R&D money on LiFePO4 technology but that LFP means the updated LiFeYPO4 with lower internal resistance,significantly better performance when temperatures are below freezing and twice the lifetime.
        But I still am biased towards the non-explody character of this “LFP” chemistry.

        1. Yeah it seems like non-flammable is going to be a desirable for most people to want this in their home! I’m not aware of the technical differences of adding yttrium (or manganese, which is also a thing), but I was just commenting that LFP is generally a catch-all term for all variations of LiFePO4, regardless of what special metals or proprietary manufacturing you do to make the cathode.

  1. if all vehicles produced each year were EVs, could industry production (and the Earth’s environment) withstand the demand for the basic elements comprising their batteries?

    this is the direction that presumably things are headed toward so now is definitely the time to soberly access the matter (are lithium batteries even a sustainable technology choice at such scale?)

    and initially Tesla used AC inductive motors but has since switched to rare earth permanent magnet DC motors for a bit better efficiency – well, that is another situation that warrants asking – how sustainable is it to use these kind of motors when all vehicles being made are EV? (Would the AC inductive motor have been more sustainable at pervasive mass scale out?)

    1. There is the largest deposit of lithium in Chile which they are only starting to extract it. Furthermore, we could extract lithium from seawater if needed. Lithium is a very abundant metal.

    2. Not every electric car is going to be a Tesla, just like not every internal combustion car will be a Jaguar. They will have a niche for enthusiasts, but wont be the norm.

      The most popular electric vehicles will be cheaper, and as such use less exotic materials in their construction.

      1. Exactly the mass produced VW Transporter, Citroen Berlingo or MB Sprinter don’t need acceleration, they need price, range and reliability, Majority of them won’t travel far, will be back at base every night. I would love electric berlingo.

      1. …which still doesn’t sound promising at all. The whole EV thing is one big scam, at least the one that has been presented to us in recent years. And even if the lithium resources weren’t an issue, there is a bazillion of other problems and definitely at this point the EVs aren’t any more ecological than conventional cars (probably they’re even worse in reality).

        1. You might get away with that comment on Facebook J, but on Hackaday you’re going to have to put a bit more thought into it… The world is not black and white and technology does not stand still. One thing is not necessarily better than the other; there are trade-offs that must be considered. Could you be more specific with your concerns?

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