Tesla’s New Technology Could Be a Game Changer for Electric Cars

If Tesla’s new tech is legit, truly affordable electric vehicles may be far closer to reality than anticipated.

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There’s one really big barrier between electric vehicles and widespread public adoption: the cost. Battery technology remains expensive — thus, battery-powered vehicles wind up costing more than their gas-powered equivalents.  While the Hyundai Kona EV may be excellent, even at its absolute cheapest with the addition of substantial federal subsidies, it still costs about 50 percent more than the base-model combustion version.

Tesla, however, may finally have a solution to that problem.

Reuters is reporting that Tesla plans to unveil a so-called “million mile battery” later this month that could be a game-changer . The battery would have a much longer lifespan (hence the name) and use low-cobalt and, eventually, cobalt-free chemistries to reduce the cost. The battery could, potentially, be used in Chinese versions of the Model 3 sedan by the end of this year.

The low cobalt versions reportedly approach the $100/kWh threshold needed to bring EV costs to level with combustion engines. The cobalt-free versions, in turn, could make EVs less expensive than gas-powered cars.

The report says Tesla also plans to reduce battery costs by streamlining and automating production in enormous so-called terrafactories, which would allegedly be about 30 times the size of Tesla’s Gigafactory (which is on track to end up being one of the world’s largest buildings) and ramping up recycling of cobalt, lithium and nickel.

Such technology would be truly game-changing — and enhance the likelihood of genuinely affordable Teslas in the future. Though, as with all things related to Tesla, a bit of skepticism should be prudent: while the company excels at presenting bold visions of the future that excite shareholders, Tesla’s track record of delivering on them is a bit more suspect. After all, Elon Musk still has a few months left to deliver on his robotaxi fleet that was supposed to be on the road by 2020.

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