In an interview given to TechOn!, Kurt Kelty, Director of battery technologies at Tesla Motors, explained a few historic facts which led to the Roadster’s success. One of them was the adoption of laptop lithium ion batteries, and building a safe and robust energy storage out of them.
The Tesla Roadster uses a battery called “18650,” originally designed for laptop computers. The car doesn’t use 10, or a hundred, but 6,831 of them, enough to dispatch a 56 kWh power onto the Roadster’s electric motors and wheels. This power is enough to take you from 0 to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds (depending on the car’s version).
Kelty also said that they met difficulties in making a final deal with various battery makers, because they had fears if something would happen it would destroy their image. But nothing bad did happen. On the contrary, Tesla succeeded building an electric vehicle that’s both nice to look at and powerful, with an autonomy of 394 kilometers, unlike any of the competitors. Kelty says they didn’t want to make compromises, even if it costed more.
“Now,” he says, “that our company is well-known, many battery makers are offering their products to us.”
Tesla’s Roadster and the upcoming Model S will carry the same battery. It has cooling and heating systems on-board, and the entire system has been designed so as if one of the batteries died, the others aren’t affected. Only the driver is alerted by a message sending him to the dealer to see why the battery had died and to replace it.
The battery chef at Tesla mentions that the future versions of the models they designed and produce will not feature batteries coming from only one manufacturer. He expects price drops in the battery market and this will ensure them a wider range of suppliers, besides the current Japan-based manufacturer.
“However, we will not bother to disclose the names of those battery suppliers. When general consumers purchase notebook PCs, they do not care about the names of battery makers, do they? I believe that the same thing can be said to EVs,” he adds.