Tesla Could Close The Price Gap With Gas Cars By Revealing Cheaper Long-Range Batteries

New, less expensive batteries may roll out to Chinese-market Model 3s next year

Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Hot or Not
[Photos: Tesla]

Later this month, Tesla may change the landscape once again when it comes to electric cars. Even as they’ve gained steam over the past few years, price has been a key factor that’s held them back when cross-shopping them against their internal combustion counterparts. Now, the automaker has been teasing a new battery technology that promises to bring EV prices more into line with gasoline cars, while also delivering greater efficiency.

Tesla’s “Battery Day” in late May will be CEO Elon Musk’s chance to reveal the sort of tech that’s been teased these past several months. Supposedly, newer low-cost batteries designed to last a million miles are on the horizon and part of a plan to make EVs cheaper to buy, sources close to the matter told Reuters. The technology was developed at China’s Contemporary Amerex Technology (CATL) and in collaboration with battery experts Musk tapped for the purpose.

At first, cheaper long-range batteries may make their way into Chinese-built Model 3 sedans. From there, the sources said it will fan out to other Tesla vehicles. However, it’s necessary to take the automaker’s strategy with a grain of salt, as they declined to comment on what the unnamed sources told reporters.

With less expensive, longer-range batteries, Tesla could provide cars with better range than gasoline-powered models, at the same price.

How could cheaper batteries work?

Cobalt is one of the most expensive rare earth metals found in current batteries. To make them cheaper, Tesla has supposedly been working with CATL to use low-cobalt or even cobalt-free batteries, the latter of which may be lithium iron phosphate batteries. The Chinese lab has also developed a method to package battery cells called “cell-to-pack”, which will help reduce weight and cost.

The cost of CATL’s low-cobalt and cobalt-free battery packs range between $80 and $100 per kilo-watt hour — more or less the price matches gasoline-powered vehicles.

Not only is Tesla planning cheaper, longer-range batteries for electric vehicles, but there are more potential uses at play. These batteries are said to be much easier to recycle, and take on new “second life” applications in energy grid storage systems. Tesla built an enormous array of battery packs in South Australia, and made clear its ambitions to work on supplying power for the grid, as well as electric cars.

What will actually come of this news? We’ll have to wait and see during Tesla’s Battery Day later this month. Stay tuned for more updates!