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International

11/09/2019

Tesla says it has created a battery that could last one million miles that could eventually be used for lorries and autonomous taxis.

In April, Elon Musk promised that Tesla would soon make cars that could last for at least one million miles without requiring any significant maintenance. Now, a scientific paper published by Jeff Danh – an academic at the University of Dalhousie in Canada who also leads Tesla’s battery research group – suggests that Musk’s prediction may already be possible.

In a paper published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society Dahn and his co-authors detailed tests of a new kind of battery that could drive more than a million miles and lose relatively little of its capacity. In ideal circumstances, the researchers suggest, the batteries could last for decades and be driven for a little under two million miles.

“We conclude that cells of this type should be able to power an electric vehicle for over 1.6 million kilometres (one million miles) and last at least two decades in grid energy storage,” Dahn and his co-authors write. Such long-lasting batteries would be particularly useful for vehicles that travel much more than the average car – such as lorries and taxis – as well as feeding energy from car batteries back to the grid so electric vehicles, in effect, become mobile forms of energy storage.

This breakthrough – if it ever does come to production vehicles – would help more than just drivers of electric lorries, says David Bailey at the University of Birmingham's department of management. “If we can show drivers that actually this battery is going to last a million miles, the battery’s going to last longer than the car. You will take away a whole load of uncertainty so it will underpin pickup of electric cars anyway,” he says.

Tesla already sells batteries for renewable energy storage and the firm is currently building its third battery-producing “Gigafactory” in Shanghai, China, which will join the current facilities in New York and Nevada. At the moment, Tesla doesn’t actually make its own batteries – those made at factory in Nevada are made out of Panasonic cells – but with this latest research it could be takingtentative steps towards owning the entire battery-making process. According to a report in The Verge the supply of cells from Panasonic is the “fundamental constraint” holding Tesla back from producing more cars.