In an important New Year development, Tesla Motors, in partnership with physicists from Canada’s Dalhousie University, filed a patent on December 26 for a new Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery technology. The patented design claims to significantly outperform the existing Li-Ion batteries widely used in electric vehicles and other energy storage applications today. The new and improved tech is likely connected to an April 2019 announcement by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who promised a “1 million-mile battery pack” for Tesla’s vehicles in 2020 and beyond.
The 1 million-mile battery is integral to Musk’s plans for fleets of ‘robotaxis’ and long-haul trucks, both of which would strain the ranges and lifetimes of the current Li-Ion batteries found in Tesla’s passenger vehicles.
Tesla’s best performing models have a maximum single-charge battery range of 370 miles – just short of the distance between Baltimore, MD and Boston, MA. – and a lifespan of 300,000 – 500,000 miles. This is impressive, given that the average lifespan of a car in the US is 150,000 miles, or roughly 11 years using the AAA annual average of 13,500 miles per year.
But while current Li-Ion battery packs may be more than enough for the typical electric vehicle owner (who on average use less than an estimated ¼ of their battery charge per day), their lifespans are inadequate for long-distance freight shipping or continuous taxi services. The average trucker, for instance, drives 2,000 – 3,000 miles per week, totaling 100,000 – 150,000 miles per year.