Tesla Motors Inc currently enjoys a lead in the EV market but new startups not relenting in the bid to challenge the top dog. Atieva, now called Lucid Motors is one of the EV startups on a mission to steal the crown from Tesla. Last month, the firm unveiled its plan to build an “executive jet on wheels” to beat Tesla Model S. Now, the firm is aiming its next punch right at the center of Tesla’s heartbeat as it lands a battery supply deal with Samsung.
Batteries are the heart of EVs – without batteries the concept EV would be stuck in the field of Sci-fi. Tesla broke through the barrier when it developed a lithium ion battery technology that could give EVs comparable range to a car on a full tank of gas. This article looks at Lucid Motors’ battery claims with a view to knowing its potential effect on Tesla’s lead in the EV market.
Lucid Motors and Samsung lay claims to breakthrough battery tech
Lucid Motors is taking giant strides in the EV market to catch up with Tesla Motors Inc . It announced a deal to build a $700M EV plant in Arizona last week. Now, the firm says it has worked with Samsung SDI to develop a “breakthrough” cylindrical li-ion battery cell. The firm notes that the new cells will outperform the current benchmarks stands in the Li-ion cell market.
Li-ion cells are great but EV makers must thread a thin line to balance size, fast charging, range, and longevity. Li-ion cells for EVs can’t be bulky; otherwise, too much energy will go to lugging the batteries around. Small batteries can’t deliver a long enough range; hence, EV drivers have to contend with range anxiety. Thirdly, increasing the energy density of the small batteries to get them to deliver a longer range will shorten the lifespan of the cells thereby driving up the cost of EVs.
Albert Liu, Lucid’s Director of Battery Technology at Lucid Motors notes that the breakthrough cell solves most of the aforementioned problems. In his words, “I have been very pleased with the results of the collaboration with Samsung SDI in developing a cell chemistry that meets our stringent standards. Samsung SDI combined their in-house chemistry expertise with massive real-world datasets and state-of-the-art battery models provided by Lucid to develop a cell that is both energy dense and resistant to damage associated with fast-charging.”
Should Tesla be worried about the Lucid-Samsung alliance?
Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk is not relenting it his efforts to maintain Tesla’s lead in battery technology. He has a Li-ion professor working on ways to increase the energy density of cells without cutting short the lifespan. Musk is also building a massive Gigafactory out in the Nevada dessert. However, the Lucid-Samsung alliance highlights some of the loose ends to tie up before EVs could enjoy mass adoption.
Nonetheless, Tesla still leads in the EV market because startup rivals are still on the drawing board while Tesla already has medals for execution. For instance, Musk built EVs to challenge ICEs in the luxury sedan and luxury SUV classes. The firm got about 400K preorders for its mass-market Model 3 coming to the market next year. Lucid Motors on the other hand won’t unveil its car until next week and it won’t start making the car until 2018.