Bloomberg Businessweek
October 22, 2014

Automakers say yes to extended EV ranges, no to Tesla's battery technology.

Tesla's success in producing and selling the Model S EV has changed the course of vehicle electrification for many carmakers. Until recently, most of them were developing EVs with70- to100-mile ranges primarily to meet zero-emission government regulations (in California and elsewhere), but Tesla's achievement drove most to initiate vehicle development with extended ranges, in some cases exceeding 200 miles, and to develop EVs for larger and more expensive vehicle platforms.

The industry is facing several pivotal questions that will affect all stakeholders:

  • Can Tesla's success be duplicated, by Tesla or other carmakers, in more economical and competitive main-stream vehicles with selling prices below $35k?
  • Is the market big enough to justify a dedicated vehicle platform?
  • Is Tesla's battery technology reliable and durable enough to support a vehicle life of 10-15 years?
  • What is a realistic cost trajectory for EV batteries, either Tesla's or conventional?
  • What is the value of rapid charge and can it be realized economically without degrading battery reliability?
  • To what degree can government-initiated environmental policies, including mandates and incentives, be relied upon to catalyze the market (and justify investments)?

The above issues are discussed in The Tesla Battery Report, which was recently released by Dr. Menahem Anderman, President of Total Battery Consulting. The Report provides an unbiased assessment—free of both the traditional automaker's conservatism and the fascination with Tesla's Silicon Valley charisma—and is based on onsite interviews with senior battery technologists and business development executives at most major car companies and battery-system suppliers on three continents.

The report dissects market conditions vis-à-vis the expected trajectory of the EV battery technology—cost, performance, durability, and safety—and provides an insightful assessment of the likely direction of the industry as far out as 2020. Its short conclusions sum up the views of most automakers: yes to extended vehicle ranges, and no to the Tesla battery technology. Extracts from the Report can be viewed here.

Dr. Anderman routinely consults with major automakers, battery makers, and related-industry stakeholders. He is founder and chairman of the premier international industry forum, the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC). The 2015 European AABC is scheduled for January 26-29, in Mainz, Germany and the 2015 International AABC will be held in Detroit, June 15-19, 2015.