Electrons are small. You may think that dead pixel on your computer screen is small, but it’s a city block compared to an electron. This may be why many people don’t understand how hard it is to store enough of them to power a car. Two companies with an intimate knowledge of the problem are electric car pioneer Tesla, and electronics giant Panasonic.
This week, the Japanese tech company announced it was investing $30 Million into Tesla to jointly develop new battery technology for its upcoming electric sedan and to be licensed by other manufacturers. Tesla currently uses Panasonic cells to power its Lotus-based Roadster and is working with Toyota on developing their next generation of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. The infusion of cash came in the form of Panasonic acquiring a 2-percent ownership stake in Tesla.
Panasonic recently announced its own joint-venture with Toyota, dubbed Primearth EV Energy Co. The goal is to develop more efficient nickel-metal hydride and lithium-ion batteries. Future plans involve the merger of Panasonic and current rival Sanyo to become a battery development powerhouse for the quickly expanding electric car market.
Factoid: Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most efficient type being used in electric vehicles and are roughly 64 times less energy dense than good ole gasoline. The best Li-ion cells are currently capable of roughly 0.72 MJ/Kg while gasoline is roughly 46.4 MJ/Kg.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)