The million-mile battery revolution: What it means for you

Electronic Vehicles or EVs have finally become mainstream globally and the invention of a million-mile battery can be crucial in its meteoric growth. As the world battles with the crisis of the pandemic, awareness and concerns about climate-change led crisis has gained phenomenal momentum world-wide.

At such a juncture, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) has announced their preparedness to produce a battery with a life span of 16 years and 1.24 million miles or 2 million kilometers. General Motors also announced that they are expecting to unveil their own million-mile battery soon, while Tesla is also working on this progressively.  Musk and Zeng, CEOs of Tesla and CATL are known to exchange views on the topic and their relationship is growing stronger with talks on building cobalt-free batteries.

Currently batteries used in EVs are covered under warranty for about 8 years or 150,000 miles as reported by BloombergNEF. Increasing the battery lifespan tenfold would mean the battery would outlive the lifespan of the vehicle. It is thus, a revolutionary development that will take will create a ripple-effect in the auto-industry.

Surge in EV sales

Owing to the novel coronavirus outbreak auto sales has slumped considerably. It is expected that consumer sentiment will change in 2021 and auto sales would pick up. Short lifespan of batteries was a primary issue dissuading consumers from choosing EVs over traditional petrol/diesel cars. Extended longevity of batteries coupled with new advanced EV models is expected to boost EV sales tremendously. Moreover, since the new battery could be potentially used in a second vehicle, it would lower cost of owning an EV, which would drive the sales momentum further. It is projected by BNEF that the EV sales would grow by 8.1% of the total auto sales next year in China and to 5% in the European countries.

Impact on environment

EVs obviously have an environmental edge over petrol/diesel cars but there is a deadlock in terms of the vehicle lifespan. The million-mile battery will change that completely. The possibility of the battery being reused in a second car or grid-connected energy storage further enhances the environmental aspect, although factors like battery degradation extent, etc. would need further probing.

Since making batteries consume considerable energy and the process involves substantial carbon emission, longer usability of the battery would mean that the world would need to produce a lower number of new batteries which would definitely have a positive effect on the environment. However, this is more of a speculation and only time will tell if it will become a reality.

Possible recycling of batteries

Collecting and repurposing of EV batteries is already emerging as an industry. Data suggests, in Europe, over 300 megawatt-hours of repurposed batteries from EVs are being used in Europe for energy storage and the scope of growth is huge.

Simon Lambert, an investigator at UK’s Faraday Institution suspects that the million-mile batteries might be cycled through different applications through the years. Perhaps the battery would be used in a sport car for the first 100,000 miles, in an electric taxi for the next 400,000 miles and finally in less demanding applications like backup power systems or grid energy storage.

In conclusion, one can only acknowledge that the wait for riding an EV with a million-mile battery is becoming unbearable. The impact is envisaged to be highly positive and projections of EVs gaining considerable ground is being welcomed globally. What remains to be seen is if the new EV designs are befitting of the million-mile life power they are being bestowed with.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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