One of the leading barriers to widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption is the high initial upfront cost compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. But a small group of Canadian researchers is helping Tesla reduce the cost of batteries to a level that would make EVs more affordable than comparable ICE vehicles.
Jeff Dahn, a Professor in the Department of Physics & Atmospheric Science and the Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie University, is recognized by many as one of the leading scientists in the world of the development of lithium-ion batteries. The work of Dahn and his group did not go unnoticed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who began hiring students out of Dahn’s lab in 2012, and a few years later in 2016 agreeing to fund much of their research.
Tesla is now reportedly preparing to use some of Dahn’s work to introduce a new longer-life, low-cost re-usable battery in China later this year, with its first application in the Model 3.
It has traditionally been believed that a price of $100/kWh for battery packs is the level needed for EV to reach price parity with ICE vehicles. Dahn’s research, which has led to the development of CATL’s cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate battery packs, has reportedly brought that cost down to $80/kWh, with the cost of the battery cells even lower at $60/kWh.
After first introducing the new batteries in China, other markets like North America will eventually see improved versions with greater energy density and storage capacity, and therefore lower cost.
In addition to producing the batteries at a lower cost, Tesla is also aiming to be able to reuse the different elements of the batteries to be used in energy grid storage system, much like the recent battery installation in Hornsdale, South Australia.
Tesla is set to hold a Battery Day later this month, with Musk teasing some huge announcements coming that would only further the automaker’s lead in the EV segment.