Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd created a new battery for electric vehicles that will take the electric cars sector to new heights. Sign of CATL in front of company building. (Image credit: CATL)
The most important part, and the source of anxiety in buyers, of electric vehicles is the battery. Many companies have been competing to put on the market an electric vehicle with the longest-lasting battery. The issue is that the battery of an electric vehicle (EV) is expensive to produce and is the reason EV tends to be more costly to the consumers than a conventional automobile. However, CATL, the company that produces batteries for Tesla vehicles, announced recently that they had solved both the production cost and durability issues with the new battery they created. Why is this new discovery so important? What makes the new battery so special?
Since the 1800s, the EV came in and out of existance for various reasons. Nonetheless, the EV is now a standard option in the 21st century thanks to 2 major events: Toyota successfully mass-produced a hybrid vehicle (Prius in 2000), and the birth of Tesla motors. As a hybrid, the Prius was not a new concept; but it was the first vehicle to overcome the challenges of mass production (technical and engineering) and be adopted by a large part of the population very quickly. To achieve the success of the Prius, Toyota used a nickel-metal battery, a technology backed by the US Energy Department. When both systems (gas and electric) were combined, the Prius could theoretically drive up to 560 miles. A few years after the introduction of the Prius, Tesla motors was created with the goal of creating an all-electric luxury vehicle with a 200-mile range on a single charge. Both events demonstrated that electric vehicles could be mass-produced, and they could be used on a daily basis. However, the cost of the battery was still an issue.
Today EVs use a lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged and packs more energy. However, over time, the constant charges reduce the amount of energy the battery can store. Therefore, EV owners have to replace the battery every 5-8 years on average. This year, CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd.), the company which supplies batteries for Tesla vehicles, announced that they created a battery that could last 1,240,000 miles and 16 years. In addition, the manufacturer revealed that the production of such marvel would only cost 10 percent more than ordinary electric batteries. For EV owners, both current and future, it means their vehicles will now have double the lifespan of current lithium-ion batteries. Longer battery life also means that the electric vehicle will cost less to the owner in the long run compared to gas vehicles. The fact that the new battery can last more than a million miles also suggests that it could be used in electric trucks since trucks often travel long distances every day.
With this breakthrough and the growing concerns for the environment, the reign of the electric vehicle seems guaranteed. The next question now is whether the technology of this new battery could be used in other situations to reduce even more our consumption of fossil fuels.
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