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At Current Rates, Tesla Could Soon Suck Up Worldwide Supply of Li-Ion Cells

timothy posted about 8 months ago | from the markets-tend-to-respond-to-demand dept.

Power 351

cartechboy writes "Lets just say Elon Musk may need to go battery shopping, like, big-time. Here's some little-understood Tesla math that could turn the global market for cylindrical lithium-ion cells upside down by 2015. It turns out the massive Model S battery takes almost 2,000 times the number of cells a basic laptop does. Assume Tesla just doubles production from its current 21K cars/year to 40K cars/year. (Something it expects to do by 2015). At that point, Tesla would require the *entire* existing global capacity for 18650 commodity cells. That assumes no other growth, no next gen model, nada. What should Elon do? Better get on the horn to Panasonic and Samsung."

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351 comments

On the plus side... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 8 months ago | (#44745997)

Our newfound infatuation with extremely flat laptops that have about as many user-servicable parts as 2001's Monolith means that demand for 18650 Li-ion cells in laptops should be plummeting! Problem solved.

Now we just need to go liberate whoever is living on top of our lithium, and we are good to go.

price competition via supply shortfall. (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#44746111)

I wonder which has the better profit margin, electronic devices or Tesla? Presumably that decides how this plays out. The interesting thing is that it's going to become a barrier to entry for electric car makers. The one with the highest profit margin can set the price of the batteries above the profit margin of the competition when there is a supply shortfall.

Re:price competition via supply shortfall. (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | about 8 months ago | (#44746245)

The question to ask is what happens to the price of a laptop and a Tesla if the price of the batteries increases.

A laptop uses maybe 6 cells which retail on amazon for about $10. So a doubling of prices would at most cost a laptop owner another $10 which is almost in the noise.

A Tesla if using 2000 times the number would cost about $20k more. That is pretty significant.

Re:price competition via supply shortfall. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746267)

JESUS CHRIST it's a li-on, GET IN THE CAR!

Re:price competition via supply shortfall. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746349)

The li-on is already in the car! It's a trap!

Re:price competition via supply shortfall. (3, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#44746347)

Or economies of scale will kick in and the batteries will get a lot cheaper.

Re:On the plus side... (5, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | about 8 months ago | (#44746329)

Our newfound infatuation with extremely flat laptops that have about as many user-servicable parts as 2001's Monolith means that demand for 18650 Li-ion cells in laptops should be plummeting! Problem solved. Now we just need to go liberate whoever is living on top of our lithium, and we are good to go.

There is a difference between a "battery" or "battery pack" and a "battery cell". One "battery" generally needs to have several "battery cells" inside. The voltage of the battery "cell" is determined by chemistry and can not be changed. To make higher voltages, you need to use more cells or a different chemistry. The simplest example is a 9V (PP3) battery. Alkaline chemistry gives a per-cell output of abour 1.5v, so to get 9v you need 6 cells. Usually this comes in the form of 6 AAAA batteries inside.

Re:On the plus side... (3, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | about 8 months ago | (#44746583)

Yep...
For your average Li-Ion battery they are in cylindrical cells and output around 3.7v each. Li-Poly are similar but instead of hard cylinders they are laminated sheets one on top of each other, allowing for more variety in shapes and are the most common for phones; downside being they do not put up with as much abuse and can be damaged resulting in an internal short and the eventual boom/fire.

Re:On the plus side... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746369)

Now we just need to go liberate whoever is living on top of our lithium, and we are good to go.

We're already on that in a place called Afghanistan, maybe you've heard of it?
Supposedly they found large deposits of Li around there.

Re:On the plus side... (1)

rueger (210566) | about 8 months ago | (#44746441)

OH NOES! IT'S CANADA!

Bright side - maybe the co. stocks in a Canadian Lithium mine that our broker talked us into will finally start to appreciate....

Re:On the plus side... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746409)

Now we just need to go liberate whoever is living on top of our lithium, and we are good to go.

That would be Bolivia. I used to live there.

A few years ago there were some insane reports in the US press and statements from congress people claiming that muslims were infiltrating Bolivian society [ihrc.org.uk]. It was the most astonishing nonsense.

Now, having read your post, I understand what it was all about.

Statistical fallicies (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746003)

If we extrapolate this curve and assume everything else remains constant, DOOOOOOOOOM!!!!

But it gets the clicks, and that's all that matters on the tubes.

Re:Statistical fallicies (3, Interesting)

jdunn14 (455930) | about 8 months ago | (#44746053)

Seriously: http://xkcd.com/605/ [xkcd.com]

I bet someone in battery manufacturing is looking as adding capacity now in anticipation of such events. This could be quite an opportunity for some manufacturer with a bit of foresight. As more companies make and sell more electric cars I doubt Tesla will be the only company hunting for more, cheaper, better.

Re:Statistical fallicies (3, Insightful)

JWW (79176) | about 8 months ago | (#44746229)

Yep. In fact probably many someones.

The way capitalism works is demand first, then supply shows up. It can't even be done the other way around.

In fact this large demand is going to be what eventually causes prices for batteries to go down, because, like I said before, many companies are going to get into this business...

Re:Statistical fallicies (4, Informative)

paiute (550198) | about 8 months ago | (#44746281)

The way capitalism works is demand first, then supply shows up. It can't even be done the other way around.

Sure it can. A process can generate a lot of some material which nobody currently needs. The manufacturer will then go and look for a market which can use this material and try to develop that market.

Re:Statistical fallicies (1, Informative)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 8 months ago | (#44746355)

The way capitalism works is demand first, then supply shows up. It can't even be done the other way around.
Strange that every business does it the opposite way:
There was no demand for an iPhone ... before it existed.
There was no demand for the Tesla ... before it actually existed.

Re:Statistical fallicies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746417)

There is a difference between being no demand and not knowing of a demand for something. If you make a widget never made before and show it to someone, and they say, "that's cool, it could possibly be useful for something I use," then there was a demand, even if there were competing products. If you make a widget and someone says, "I have no use for that," or you make 1000 widgets and the market response, "We only can find a use 10 of those, no matter how cheap," then there was not a demand for what you were trying to produce.

Re:Statistical fallicies (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 8 months ago | (#44746453)

There were no smartphones before the iPhone? Really? There was no desire for portable computing?

There was no demand for cars before Tesla?

Demand exists before supply. If no one wanted to ever go faster than a horse the car would never have been a success.

Re:Statistical fallicies (2)

jdunn14 (455930) | about 8 months ago | (#44746545)

I think you're misreading or oversimplifying those situations. It's not that there was no demand, but it is more difficult to measure before the product exists. There was a market for smartphones and Apple 1) tends to put out good stuff, 2) already made iPods so they had some experience w making small portable consumer devices, 3) demonstrated that people loved the Apple branding of such things.

As for the Tesla, people plunked down $40000 reservations before the cars existed, and continue to do so for new models. If that doesn't show demand exists I'm not sure what would.

I'm sure there are products where there was no demand before the product existed, but I don't think you can call that the common case. Before a company sinks significant cost into designing a new product they generally run some numbers to measure the current market demand for the final product. Sure, some of that is wishful thinking, but some is evaluating current offerings and seeing how your product will be able to grab the customers. I'm sure Apple looked at BlackBerry devices before throwing their hat into the smartphone market and I'm sure Musk had more that just a hunch that rich people would buy a luxury electric car. However, when you have enough money, as did the creators of both these examples, the market analysis is a little less critical during the development stage just because a failed project isn't the end of the world. Apple could have kept going even if the iPhone flopped and Musk wouldn't run out of cash if Tesla crashed and burned during the roadster days.

Re:Statistical fallicies (2)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 8 months ago | (#44746487)

In fact this large demand is going to be what eventually causes prices for batteries to go down

That's not necessarily true. An increase in production decreases the price of each unit when an unlimited amount of the needed raw materials are available. Batteries involve exotic materials that may become scarce due to increased use. That scarcity leads to higher prices for inputs, and thus higher prices for the batteries.

Re:Statistical fallicies (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 8 months ago | (#44746517)

Not so. Or at least, the demand can be invisible. Lots of pundits said there was no demand for tablets before the iPad launched, and the market was negligible. Apple announced a supply, and demand turned to take it.

And as transport planners have found, build the roads and the traffic will come.

What was the demand for Tesla-type cars before Tesla started up? Negligible.

Re:Statistical fallicies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746591)

The way capitalism works is demand first, then supply shows up. It can't even be done the other way around.

You need to watch the BBC doc "The Century of the Self" by Adam Curtis:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Century_of_the_Self

They argue that the history of the 20 Century did just that: create demand for a supply of stuff that the producers had.

And, Li-Ion batteries are improving exponentially (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 8 months ago | (#44746011)

Re:And, Li-Ion batteries are improving exponential (-1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#44746049)

yeah yeah post some place to buy them.

on the other hand.... what the fuck their magic sauce is JUST BUYING FUCKING LASERPOINTER CELLS ?!?#??

Re:And, Li-Ion batteries are improving exponential (4, Insightful)

smith6174 (986645) | about 8 months ago | (#44746137)

Seriously, putting an r-squared value on the chart for apparently FOUR data points? Scientist card revoked.

Markets, how do they work? (3, Funny)

martas (1439879) | about 8 months ago | (#44746015)

I seem to recall some old English dude saying stuff about supply and demand... But sarcasm aside, isn't it about time we had some tangible breakthroughs in battery tech?

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | about 8 months ago | (#44746115)

It's not as easy many would think it would be. The battery market requires A LOT more interest before they can speed up research. Right now, There is research being done with nanotubes. But if demand starts rising, I'm sure funding would be much easier to hire the teams of researchers needed to push it to market.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

martas (1439879) | about 8 months ago | (#44746185)

Yet another reason to wish electric vehicles widespread adoption. It's about time we escaped the paleolithic era of energy storage.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 8 months ago | (#44746261)

why? liquid fuels have many times the energy density of batteries. we should be making that from dense vegetation grown on scrubland, an already solved problem that is carbon neutral

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

martas (1439879) | about 8 months ago | (#44746443)

Do you want an internal combustion engine in your smartphone? Speaking of which, electric motors are more efficient than internal combustion, I believe. There's also the issue of rising food prices. And the fact that better battery tech is pretty important for wider adoption of variable energy sources like solar and wind. Plus burning gasoline or vegetable-derived fuels releases more than just CO2. Even if you end up burning crops for energy, you might be better off doing that in a centralized fashion and getting the energy to cars through batteries.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 8 months ago | (#44746463)

Internal combustion is not the only method to get electricity or work from liquid fuel. Methanol Fuel cells are well known.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 8 months ago | (#44746311)

Provided the electricity that goes into those cells is not made using paleolithic era means.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746283)

Batteries are in everything that we use today. I've got one in my watch, my cell phone, my laptop, the electronic thing that unlocks a door at work... the demand couldn't be much higher. Research goes at its own pace -- you can't just say we're going to invent a magic wand tomorrow if enough people pray for it to happen.

Re: Markets, how do they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746129)

A breakthrough! By Jove, you're right! Why didn't they think of that? They should get with it and achieve a breakthrough!

Re:Markets, how do they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746151)

This. All this will do is force more research in to new battery tech.

And whoever wins gets a shitload of cash for doing so. Said cash repaying the crush for research several times over in under a decade most likely.

Luckily by the middle of the century, or at least hopefully, space mining will be in full swing and launching useful crap down to us.

Re: Markets, how do they work? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746287)

Considering that you can now buy 3.4Ah 18650s (NCR18650B) when just a few years ago 2.4Ah was the biggest available, I'd say we keep right on having the tangible breakthroughs. The trouble is, we keep seeing news articles about some battery tech which will double current battery capacity, and is about ten years from market. But we never see that "double" jump, next year we just get 7% more capacity and another tech in the lab that will eventually, when it hits the street, double current capacity. So we get disillusioned and think the lab advances never translate into reality, even though capacity is doubling every decade (or so), it just happens in a cascade of incremental improvements each of which was deceptively hyped in the media by comparing it to current production, rather than to other battery tech at a similar stage of development.

Re:Markets, how do they work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746579)

I seem to recall some old English dude saying stuff about supply and demand...

That dude was Scottish!

Scottish, not English (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746593)

I assume you're referring to Adam Smith.

Well... (5, Funny)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 8 months ago | (#44746023)

Make more?

Crisis solved. I will even waive my customary consulting fee.

so glad for the solution (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 8 months ago | (#44746255)

we'll start making LiON batteries from carbon, zinc, and magnesium dioxide, then.

the lithium/rare earths mine in California is going to have to start exporting to China.

Re:so glad for the solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746377)

Lithium doesn't come from rare earth ores. It's in fact almost on the opposite end of the periodic table, being the first metal (after hydrogen and helium).

It's mainly found in Bolivia, which is a bit of a problem: Bolivia would like to have a domestic battery industry (higher revenue), instead of exporting raw lithium. The problem? A 20th century socialist for president, who is quite successfully scaring away international investment. As a result, the main exporter is Chile, which has smaller deposits.

Re:so glad for the solution (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 8 months ago | (#44746445)

Excuse me for being sane here, but why does he not sell the lithium to finance the battery production infrastructure? Then he would not need any international investment.

Re:so glad for the solution (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 8 months ago | (#44746567)

It requires a huge mine, ore purifiers if not smelters, roads and railways to be built, To get small amounts of lithium from half way up a mountain to a port where it can be shipped in quantity to battery manufacturers requires investment of the order of billions of dollars, which Bolivia doesn't have, plus mining and technology skills it doesn't have. You need the investment to product the lithium before you can sell it. And potential investors are scared that a sovereign country will either nationalise the mine as soon as it is completed, or increase extraction taxes so it is not profitable enough to repay the investment.

Re:Well... (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 months ago | (#44746313)

Make more?

Crisis solved. I will even waive my customary consulting fee.

Actually, charge more. Seriously if demand goes up significantly so will price until new factories come on line. Of course, extrapolating future demand from a small data set is not a good predictor of future demand. If Tesla became such a large purchaser of cells I would guess manufacturers would be leery of adding significant capacity that could become excess resulting in a glut or idle factories if Tesla's demand suddenly lessened significantly.

Re:Well... (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#44746605)

The former A123 Holland Michigan plant is sitting almost idle right now AFAIK, and the LG plant in Michigan just started production, not sure what percentage of global supply those two plants represent but since both were target at electric vehicles from the big 3 you have to assume they're significant capacity.

18,650? Really? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746059)

The global supply of laptop cells per year is 18,650? As in... 18,650 laptops are sold per year. Across the planet? That seems implausibly low. Did anyone try applying some common sense to this story?

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746083)

Each car obviously consumes one gajillion cells.

Re:18,650? Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746097)

idiot

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746141)

18650 is the size of the cells in question, 18mm in diameter and 65 mm in length the 0 means cylindrical form factor.

Re: 18,650? Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746399)

No, the R stands for Round, and designates that it's a cylindrical cell. The 0 is just the tenths place, denoting that the cell is 65.0 mm long. I'm sick of this misconception (spread memetically through and from candlepowerforums), could you people please get it right? [candlepowerforums.com]

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746147)

It's the type of cell. nr 18650

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 8 months ago | (#44746149)

The global supply of laptop cells per year is 18,650? As in... 18,650 laptops are sold per year. Across the planet? That seems implausibly low. Did anyone try applying some common sense to this story?

Also, the number 18,650 does not appear in the linked [energytrend.com] article anywhere. In fact it mentions that prices have been going down on cells across the board for several quarters now. This is the exact opposite of what would happen during a shortage. My guess is the submitter cartechboy is just making up bullshit or is an idiot, and the "editors" are lazy and did not bother to RTFA.

Usually you can tell a summary is bullshit when it is filled with links that have no relation to the topic in a vain to prove the submitter's theory.

Re:18,650? Really? (1)

hattig (47930) | about 8 months ago | (#44746495)

The first linked article mentions them explicitly:

Tesla is the only carmaker to use small "commodity" 18650 cells for plug-in vehicles; Nissan, General Motors, BMW, and others use larger-format cells, which contain up to 10 times the energy in each cell.

The issue is whether there is a production limit for "18650" cells, or if only enough are made that would be sold, and now Tesla need more, more will be made.

Given that ultimately they're all Li-ion, just in different formats, it's not a real issue as long as Tesla have managed their suppliers expectations.

The carmaker's rapid production scale-up has prompted Panasonic to expand capacity, by reopening previously idled plants, while simultaneously committing to build entirely new production lines.

Yes.

No real story, certainly no panic.

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746161)

18mm diameter x 65mm long.

Re:18,650? Really? (2)

voxelman (236068) | about 8 months ago | (#44746169)

18650 is the Li-ion cell type not the quantity. It looks like a bulked up AA battery and is typically available in the range of 2.5 - 3.0 AHr at 3.7 volts.

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746227)

The global supply of laptop cells per year is 18,650? As in... 18,650 laptops are sold per year. Across the planet? That seems implausibly low. Did anyone try applying some common sense to this story?

this comment making it to 3, Insightful is by itself sufficient to prove the uselessness of Slashdot's moderation system.

Re:18,650? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746319)

Can a manmade masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel, the ethereal elegance of a mathematical equation, even the dance of the heavenly spheres, compare to the beauty of a perfectly crafted troll?

Super capacitors (1, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 8 months ago | (#44746065)

Maybe Mr. Musk would be better served dumping more R&D into super capacitors instead.

Re:Super capacitors (1)

TWX (665546) | about 8 months ago | (#44746135)

Maybe Mr. Musk...

Oh My God...

Elon Musk is a James Bond Villain! A real-life Max Zorin!

Re:Super capacitors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746299)

Maybe Mr. Musk would be better served dumping more R&D into super capacitors instead.

He IS supposed to be an innovator. Well, here's his chance to step up.

Re:Super capacitors (3, Informative)

necro81 (917438) | about 8 months ago | (#44746325)

[sigh...]

Super capacitors are awesome, and would dovetail very nicely with Tesla's high-capacity charging stations. But the simple fact is that they are still about an order of magnitude lower in energy density [wikipedia.org] than Li-Ion. Sure, lots of people are looking to improve that, but it is doubtful that Musk is going to (or would even be able to) dump enough R&D money into the field to bring about an automotive "battery" using supercapacitors anytime soon. If he's going to put money into the field at all, it'll probably be to integrate a relatively small amount of supercapacitance into the conventional battery pack to improve the pulse power capability.

Do I lack reading comprehensiosn skills? (4, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 8 months ago | (#44746071)

So if Tesla doubles production, it would consume the entire world's production of li-ion cells. So the measly 21k cars Tesla produces use half of the world's production already? Maybe I can't read and/or do math though.

Re:Do I lack reading comprehensiosn skills? (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 8 months ago | (#44746293)

So if Tesla doubles production, it would consume the entire world's production of li-ion cells. So the measly 21k cars Tesla produces use half of the world's production already? Maybe I can't read and/or do math though.

It's not your math, it's the lack of data in TFAs. I can't find the number of cells per Tesla battery in any of the articles, either. Maybe I just got bored paging through. Stupid ADD. Anyway. searching around gives guesses of 7500 to 8000 cells in the top-of-the-line pack. So another 20000 cars would be 160 million more cells. If a laptop uses four to eight cells per battery, that's a lot of laptops worth of cells.

"That assumes no other growth" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746077)

Yeah; in particular it assumes that there will be no growth in production of batteries, despite the increase in demand. Maybe that's not such a good assumption? Nah, let's just print another FUD piece about electric cars.

Rather Breathless Headline (4, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 8 months ago | (#44746105)

We start with some seriously breathless doom-and-gloom headlines and summary, then reading the articles we find this sort of thing:

The carmaker's rapid production scale-up has prompted Panasonic to expand capacity, by reopening previously idled plants, while simultaneously committing to build entirely new production lines.

So prices had been dropping, production had been cut, but now at least one cell maker has restarted idled lines. That doesn't exactly sound like a disaster in the making.

Duh? (1)

mechtech256 (2617089) | about 8 months ago | (#44746155)

Elon Musk founded PayPal, Tesla, and a company that flies TO SPACE. I'm sure he has the supply strategy for the #1 component of his cars worked out. What a non-story.

Um, no. (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 8 months ago | (#44746165)

It would drive the price of batteries sky high, as well as other devices that use said batteries, such as cell phones.

Supply and demand. Econ 101. Nothing to see here besides another Tesla slashvertisement.

Sigh (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 8 months ago | (#44746211)

Better get on the horn to Panasonic and Samsung.

Tesla already has a manufacturing deal with Panasonic, who makes all their cells. They don't buy the thing on the open market. I'm pretty sure that if Tesla wants more batteries, Panasonic can and will ramp up production.

Re:Sigh (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 8 months ago | (#44746269)

Funny thing that hey were willing to pay for them and probably top dollar at that (car manufactures rarely go for cheap) thus they will find a way to make more.

If I were him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746219)

I'd build my own battery plants. Once Tesla succeeds with electric cars everyone will want batteries to power their own.

Introducing Tesla-X battery company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746259)

Cause this seems to be the way he solves these kinds of problems.

Perspective is important (5, Informative)

wchin (6284) | about 8 months ago | (#44746275)

The lithium ion 18650 cylindrical cell production has been dropping as laptop demand has dropped and as laptops are moving to lithium polymer flat pack batteries.

Panasonic/Sanyo has had to close factories. Originally, Panasonic's plants that were acquired from Sanyo were supposed to be able to produce 300 million cells in their Suminoe plant in Osaka, Japan in just stage 1.

http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800603184_765245_NT_5f784554.HTM [eetasia.com]

That plant alone, running at full stage 1 capacity could produce enough batteries for 40,000 85kWh Model S's. The demand from Tesla is strong enough that they are expanding production again:

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-08-21/news/41433228_1_lithium-ion-batteries-production-line# [indiatimes.com]

However, it really isn't the Model S or Model X that will have the issue, or even the initial production of whatever Gen 3 car that is coming. The big issue is making enough batteries for millions of EVs, and that will take some planning for the necessary expansion.

Switch tech - slightly (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 8 months ago | (#44746285)

Just use the design for the Chevy Volt. Had mine two years, beat the snot out of it - and it's as good as new, or actually, slightly better in range. GM has that all worked out re temp/charge/balancing control - and as a result, both would get cheaper due to volume. And yes, I'm about to test-drive a Tesla, since my solar system has the extra juice to handle both.

Re:Switch tech - slightly (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#44746411)

I prefer a Photo Voltaic power system to a Solar System. They are far more compact and you dont have to deal with the plants constantly spinning and upsetting the neighbors.

Re:Switch tech - slightly (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#44746489)

so surely you made sure that volt doesn't just pack the same cheapo cells into their cellpacks?

I just thought before this article that they would have used something a bit more custom... but if the plants had overproduction I guess that's why they went with what they went with.

Re:Switch tech - slightly (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 8 months ago | (#44746505)

It does not look like GM wants a cheaper Volt. They are going the other way with a Volt Cadillac.

The question I have is why anyone would pay Tesla prices for a Volt in Cadillac clothes. Also I doubt there is a big crossover between the Rapper and Granny sets with the Hybrid/Electric car buyer set.

A cheaper Volt would be nice though, I could afford one but I can't justify spending that much on a car to myself.

National Geographic Magazine will crush us all (1)

mveloso (325617) | about 8 months ago | (#44746339)

This article is a classic example of why this sort of reasoning is wrong:

http://www.jir.com/geographic.html [jir.com]

"PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE MUST BE IMMEDIATELY STOPPED AT ALL COSTS! This beautiful, educational, erudite, and thoroughly appreciated publication is the heretofore unrecognized instrument of doom which must be erased if we as a country or continent will survive. It is NOT TOO LATE if this warning is heeded!"

The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894 (3, Interesting)

watermark (913726) | about 8 months ago | (#44746351)

The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894. Writing in the Times of London in 1894, one writer estimated that in 50 years every street in London would be buried under nine feet of manure.

Re:The Great Horse-Manure Crisis of 1894 (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#44746405)

Have you been to London lately? It seems to be that way.

That's assuming a lot... (2)

bmo (77928) | about 8 months ago | (#44746359)

Summary sez that...

>no assumptions that the situation will ever change except that Tesla will use more batteries:

FTFS "That assumes no other growth, no next gen model, nada."

Increased demand will make it profitable for economies of scale in manufacturing to take place, and to make Li cells cheaper, as has happened since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And we'll have more of them.

FTFA:

The carmaker's rapid production scale-up has prompted Panasonic to expand capacity, by reopening previously idled plants, while simultaneously committing to build entirely new production lines.

Well, duh!

It's not like we're going to run out of Lithium, either. It's recyclable, first and foremost, and it's plentiful.

Clicking through to the article, it's not at all as sensationalist as the summary even though the article itself contains some BS. The summary says that we're going to suddenly run out because of the demand. No such thing is mentioned in the article itself.

Invest in battery manufacturers. That's the real take-away from this article. And the summary writer is a douchebag.

--
BMO

He needs.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 8 months ago | (#44746387)

To build that Ark reactor he wears....

Or ask Howard Heughes, the real Tony Stark, for his Ark technology.

Seriously, the #1 problem with electric vehicles is that we have crap power storage systems. If he wants to change the world, stop with flights of fancy and dump ALL his effort into just tripling battery storage capacity and life.

18650 cells? (1)

Wierdy1024 (902573) | about 8 months ago | (#44746391)

18650 cells?

Thats like saying "If everyone bought their house using pennies, we wouldn't have enough pennies!". 18650 cells are ideal for laptops, but for cars, one uses bigger batteries, for which there is more production volume.

Re:18650 cells? (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 8 months ago | (#44746485)

Yes, except this is Tesla's unique strategy with electric car production. Musk said he actually did string together a whole bunch of "off the shelf" 18650 batteries, intended for use in laptops originally, in order to assemble a functional electric car power pack at a lower cost than if he designed a specific one for it.

As time goes on, I expect he will change strategies to having a custom battery pack built for him by someone (similar to what GM has done with the Volt). But at least to get his Tesla S out the door at a competitive price, this was part of his plan.

Analogy to Apple (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | about 8 months ago | (#44746447)

There was a time when there was this thing called the iPod, and it had a small magnetic hard drive inside it. iPods were really big business - hundreds of millions were made. iPods practically cornered the market for 1.8" hard drives for a while. The world did not end.

More recently, Apple started producing iPods and, later on, entire freaking phones, tablets, and computers that did away with the spinning magnetic discs in favor of flash memory. Apple sold of lot of those, too, and for a long while has consumed a large fraction of the entire world output of flash memory. Lo and behold: world output increased to match demand.

If anything, these facile comparisons should give Elon Musk an idea: pre-purchase huge swaths of 18650s as a strategic move, just as Apple has done for flash memory and touchscreens over the years. Doing so would ensure the lowest possible price, a consistent supply chain, and make it harder for competitors to enter the market on equal terms.

Computer anology for car... (1)

tekrat (242117) | about 8 months ago | (#44746585)

Wait wait... You just made a computer analogy for a car issue. This is a complete reversal of Slashdot policy. I'm afraid your userID will have to be suspended.

li-ion batteries suck (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 8 months ago | (#44746499)

lithium ion batteries are awful. currently available, there are much better battery types out there, like the si-anode battery, among others. the future,however, is not batteries, it is supercapacitors made out of graphene. there wont really be a huge market for electric cars until supercapacitors are available, because they hold a much larger charge and build up storage 100x faster than a battery. with graphene supercapacitors, electric cars will be able to go much further without recharging than a normal car would go without refueling.

Supply and Demand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746513)

If only there was some way that Tesla's demand for lithium batteries could signal battery producers to increase production or signal Tesla to use less batteries. :/

can't it be taken from seawater? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 8 months ago | (#44746519)

Although lithium is widely distributed on Earth, it does not naturally occur in elemental form due to its high reactivity.[3] The total lithium content of seawater is very large and is estimated as 230 billion tonnes, where the element exists at a relatively constant concentration of 0.14 to 0.25 parts per million (ppm),[37][38] or 25 micromolar;[39] higher concentrations approaching 7 ppm are found near hydrothermal vents.[38]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium [wikipedia.org]

is it economically viable to isolate it from the sea?

There goes my Ecig batteries (1)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about 8 months ago | (#44746523)

I'll have to buy a petrol version.

Tesla really needs to give up on electric cars. Unless, they can prove their CO2 footprint is lower than building and running a petrol car.
Pigs might fly....

So I should keep my stock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44746533)

I've had stock in battery making company since 2009. So I guess I should hold it and sell it in 2016! Huge Profit for me! Yea!
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