One of Elon Musk’s favorite words is “super.” Things are not important to him, they are super important. So he would probably say the new 100 kWh battery available now (for a hefty price) in the Model S and Model X is a super big deal, one that has little to do with the cars’ outrageous performance potential — 0-60 in 2.5 seconds for the Model S, 2.9 seconds for the Model X.
Every battery for an electric car begins with cells, mostly lithium ion cells today. They are assembled into clusters and the clusters are then assembled into a complete battery pack. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Inside the battery pack, coolant must be allowed to circulate. As electricity is withdrawn from a battery, it heats up. If it gets too hot, it can ignite, resulting in a rather spectacular fire.
The key to the new Tesla 100 kWh battery is that it represents the state of the art in battery packaging. In a conference call announcing the new battery, Musk indicated that the new battery comes close to providing the theoretical maximum power possible for its size and shape using the current battery chemistry. I”t’s been quite a challenging development,” he said.
There wasn’t room enough left over in the chassis of the Model S and Model X to make the battery pack larger, so Tesla engineers totally redesigned the cooling system to be more compact yet more efficient. Then they rearranged how the cell clusters were arrange inside the battery pack.
Battery cooling is a big deal for electric cars. There are rumors that Apple is working with a small company in South Korea on battery cells that are hollow in the middle. That empty space is said to allow more air flow for better cooling. But of course, all that is merely theoretical, since Apple isn’t really building an electric car. Or is it?
The real reason the new Tesla 100 kWh battery is a super big deal is because, once again, it marks Tesla as being the smartest company in the game. Tesla is 3 to 5 years ahead of anybody else on the planet when it comes to making world class electric cars.
Elon may be an SOB to work for. His expectations are super high and his demands on his employees are super severe. But his right foot is firmly planted on the accelerator and he has no intention of backing off. Apparently, he doesn’t know how. That is why his cars will always be super far ahead of the competition.