Thursday, May 10, 2007

Japan and Battery Development

The Japanese are making a push to greatly improve lithium ion battery technology through the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Over the last 15 years there has been a great increase in energy density and units sold of lithium ion batteries as the graphs show. Energy density has improved 5.2 times over the last 15 years, a rate of 11.6% a year. If that trend were to continue a doubling would occur every 7 years.

Unfortunately they don't specify how capacity (kWh) per dollar has improved over time. This is the most important metric in my mind. I would guess it is similar to the energy density improvement, but I could be wrong.

The report also specifies their targets for the future. They want batteries with the same performance at 1/2 the cost by 2010, 1.5 times the performance at 1/7th the cost by 2015 and 7 times the performance at 1/40 the cost in 2030. That is much quicker than the current rate of improvement and I don't know how realistic it is.

But, if they are able to hit their 2015 goal, it would make electric cars competitive with gasoline powered ones in just 8 years.

Currently, the Tesla Roadster uses batteries that give it a range of 200 miles with a price estimated at $12,500 to $20,000 to $30,000. A battery with 1.5 times the performance at 1/7th the cost would give the Tesla Roadster a range of over 350 miles and a price on the battery of somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000. With the cost savings of electricity over gasoline, I believe this would make electric vehicles cost competitive with internal combustion engines without subsidies.

via Green Car Congress

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