The Million Mile Battery & the Future of EV Batteries

Electric vehicles are quite a hot topic these days. It’s become very common to see many Tesla vehicles as well as other electric vehicles when out driving around. Many people are very pro EV while many others are very against EVs for a handful of reasons. Despite some of the public opinion, they are more than likely here to stay and they’re already evolving. So, let’s look at the potential coming impact of this next generation of electric vehicles.

Many people aren’t the biggest fans of electric vehicles for the reasoning that they are not as green as we make them out to be, which can be true. I’ve heard people make the argument that EVs have higher manufacturing emissions than normal gas-powered vehicles, which is true. The production of electric vehicles, and more specifically the production of batteries, does produce a good bit of harmful emissions. Another argument is that if you are not charging your vehicle from a green energy source, then the difference in emissions will pretty much offset and you’ll be producing as much emissions as a regular gas vehicle would.

These are both valid arguments. Manufacturing EVs and EV batteries does create a good bit more emissions than gas powered vehicles, and depending on where the energy is coming from to charge your EV, it may not be very green either. For example, in regards to the power being used to charge the vehicle, using coal power to charge an EV will help emissions in absolutely no way at all. However, using natural gas to charge an EV will effectively cut the total emissions in half compared to the most efficient combustion vehicles.

Essentially electric vehicles are as green as their “juice” or the energy that is supplying it. So, although the manufacturing process does create more emissions, if we can make strides for cleaner energy as a whole in the country, then we should be able to begin reducing the carbon footprint we’ve created regardless of the emissions created when building the vehicles. Not to say that we shouldn’t work to make the process of producing EVs more green as well, but we might as well take it one step at a time. Especially if each step will be significant in effectively reducing emissions.

Tesla, GM, and likely plenty of other companies that are currently involved in the EV market are in the process of creating a “million-mile battery” for their electric vehicles. Currently electric vehicle batteries on average will last around 200,000 miles before they are no longer usable in vehicles, but a battery that lasts one million miles would most definitely change the game for EVs. A few years ago, this may have seemed like science fiction, but Tesla expects to unveil their million-mile battery around the end of 2020/early 2021 in their model 3, being manufactured in China. This is part of their wider plan to “introduce longer-lasting, low cost batteries to bring the EV market prices on par with the price of regular gas vehicles”. GM’s Executive Vice President Doug Parks said that they are “almost there” in efforts to make their own version of the million-mile battery.

Introducing a million-mile battery would be huge for the industry in many ways. One thing that would greatly help reduce emissions in the creation of EV batteries would be that after a certain point of time in existence, less batteries would need to be produced in general. The battery would outlast its original vehicle and could be transferred to another or even re-purposed for use in something other than a vehicle. The market for used batteries would likely boom and the need for raw material mining would no longer be needed to the extent it is currently, effectively reducing emissions as well.

Those million-mile batteries would have to die at some point though, right? Well yes, but EV batteries are considered to be at the end of their productive life when they fall to 80% of their original charge capacity. This leaves plenty of capacity for them to be re-purposed. Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently published a study of the possibility of a utility-scale solar farm combined with storage systems that were created from used EV batteries and found that it could be used as a much better alternative to building new energy storage systems.

Electric vehicles have been a huge topic for the last few years and they will likely continue to grow in popularity. The million-mile battery for electric vehicles can and likely will help clean up energy solutions significantly in both the industries of transportation as well as energy storage. The future seems to be electric and although it is going to be a long while before any country is fully electric, it is nice to see some companies making moves towards cleaner energy and recycling resources.

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