China Is Building the Batteries of the Future – by Damien Ma and Neil Thomas (Foreign Policy – April 2, 2019)

Tesla is the United States’ only shot at critical new technology.

Tesla is a company that its critics love to hate. A swarm of short sellers have bet $10 billion that the electric carmaker will fail. They tweet incessantly about Tesla’s loss-making operations and even fly drones over its facilities to verify production figures. Elon Musk, Tesla’s erratic CEO, has berated these short-sellers as “haters.”

Betting against Tesla’s prospects may profit short-sellers, but it could end up dashing America’s only hope to build supply chains for a technology that will reshape the future economy: the lithium-ion (li-ion) battery.
Originally commercialized by Sony in the 1990s, these batteries’ high-energy density, long recharging cycles, lightweight structure, and relative safety make them ideal for powering everything including laptops, smartphones, and electric vehicles.

The potential of electric vehicles to transform global transport will make li-ion batteries even more integral to the global economy. But such vehicles are still costly compared to their gas-guzzling predecessors. That’s because li-ion batteries are expensive and constitute a serious proportion of their total cost.

Buy a Tesla Model 3, for instance, and an estimated one-third of the $35,000 price tag is from the battery. So the commercialization of electric vehicles depends largely on lowering the cost of batteries.

For the rest of this article:

Comments are closed.