A battery that lasts a million-mile – Tesla’s new Milestone

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised earlier this year that Tesla will soon develop a battery that lasts 1 million miles over the course of its lifespan for its electric vehicle. With this newly developed battery the current Tesla car’s battery lifetime would roughly double as well as cut the operating costs for Tesla’s other two projects which are long-haul electric trucks and robotaxis.

At first Elon Musk’s claim seemed to be laced with hyperbole, but the new research proposes that his ambitious aim can be achieved and sooner than we expected. A paper published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society earlier this month by researchers at Dalhousie University details the upcoming Tesla batteries. Tesla has an exclusive agreement with this university’s group of battery researchers — led by Jeff Dahn.

3D Rendering: Electric Car With Battery Pack
3D Rendering: Electric Car With Battery Pack – ShutterStock

According to the paper, the lithium-ion battery could last for a million miles while losing less than 10% of its energy capability in its lifetime. The researchers conducted 3 years of testing on the batteries in various settings and conditions.

“Tests include long-term charge-discharge cycling at 20, 40 and 55°C, long-term storage at 20, 40 and 55°C, and high precision coulometry at 40°C,” reads the paper.

The described batteries use many of the same materials found in existing lithium-ion batteries in vehicles. But these materials are optimized in a way that gives them a significant performance boost. One of the biggest differences between the new and currently available batteries is the nano-structure of the battery’s cathode.

Tesla Model S at Charging Station
Tesla Model S at Charging Station – ShutterStock

Tesla’s new batteries use many of the same materials found in existing lithium-ion batteries but the materials are optimized so that it gives them a substantial performance boost. A notable difference between the currently available and new batteries is the nano-structure of the battery’s cathode. Relatively larger Crystals are used in Tesla’s new million-mile battery cathode, which makes it less likely to develop cracks that can affect performance while it’s charging.

Shortly after the paper came out, Tesla and Dahn received a patent for a single-crystal lithium-ion battery similar to the one described in the paper, but with an electrolyte additive that’ll likely enable it to work even better, improving the “performance and lifetime of Li-ion batteries, while reducing costs,” as the patent states.

Such a battery would help Tesla implement robotaxis and long-haul electric trucks inexpensively. But that doesn’t necessarily mean customers should expect the price of Tesla to drop anytime soon. In fact, Musk said in July that the price of Tesla will likely surge once the Tesla’s robotaxis hit the streets, considering that supply and demand will make the cars even more valuable.

Tesla’s million-mile battery will be here soon. These new batteries could become beneficial in things like huge trucks, semi-trucks, autonomous vehicles, which drive significantly more miles than the average family car.

Aimal Khan is the founder & CEO of Engineering Passion. He is an engineer and has obtained his bachelor's degree in energy engineering from Kandahar University.