Tesla Motors has based their whole business model on batteries. They kind of have to since, after all, they sell electric cars. Tesla’s Roadster contains 6,831 lithium ion laptop-style batteries and the company’s up and coming 2012 Model S will have around 8,000 lithium ion laptop-style batteries. This is why it’s such a surprise to hear Tesla CEO Elon Musk say that he doesn’t think batteries will be part of the breakthrough that really pushes electric vehicle transportation into the mainstream.

While speaking at Cleantech Forum in San Francisco, Musk said, “If I were to make a prediction, I’d think there’s a good chance that it is not batteries but capacitors [that will facilitate the breakthrough].”

Musk might be onto something. One of the biggest drawbacks to electric vehicles is the “range anxiety” caused by the very batteries that electric vehicles need to store their energy. Batteries not only take a long time to charge up, but the state of their charge is largely dependent on ambient temperatures.

Capacitors are a lot like batteries. They’re commonly used now in consumer electronics to maintain power while the batteries are charging. Capacitors can also release quick bursts of electricity and since they can withstand more charging cycles than batteries, they should last longer. The only thing that batteries have on capacitors is that they can store more energy.

Now we’re not engineers, but if Tesla was somehow capable of combining large capacitors with a battery, so that the capacitors could both run the car and charge the battery when the battery is depleted, and supplement it with regenerative braking and solar panels, they might just be onto something BIG. In theory, that could be a real self-sustaining car. That could also be just the breakthrough that Tesla needs to remain viable into the 21st century auto industry.


Source: Gigaom

What do you think?
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  (478) posted on 05.9.2011

I can’t understand the whole concept of their theory. All I know is that capacitor is used to limit the flow of the current. Well, I think they been trying to demonstrate it just like a mobile phone that once its low battery we need to charge so that we could it used again.

  (570) posted on 04.27.2011

I can see electric cars on the future. I once read about the future of mobility according to BMW. I got excited hearing their plan but as for Tesla..eh?

  (714) posted on 04.27.2011

Well, electric cars need a further research to call it reliable if they are not going to do that then future with those car !

  (592) posted on 03.29.2011

Well, if batteries are not, what is the future then? That’s certainly a tough question that Mr. Musk needs to answer, else it’s really goodbye to the electric car.

  (337) posted on 03.28.2011

Once thing about capacitors is that they sometimes tend to discharge their energy too quickly. But if Tesla is able to come up with an efficient way to control this, then they might be on to something.

  (347) posted on 03.28.2011

That would be a most probable setup. A combination of batteries and capacitors would be ab;e to power the car much longer than would be for batteries alone.

  (31) posted on 03.25.2011

Yet another example of nano technology that may become an alternative source of energy on roads. Hope this will solve the energy crisis in future.

  (313) posted on 03.25.2011

Well, IMO, I don’t believe on the concept of electric cars. I think it still needed a further research and study. I can’t believe that a battery could make the car run for several miles . It will limit and for sure they will activate the diesel engine to serve as an alternative.

  (647) posted on 03.25.2011

It seems to be a rather bold statement coming from Tesla. But who knows, they might actually saying that because they have something else in store for us.

  (412) posted on 03.25.2011

Well, if they are able to push through with those so called nanobatteries, then, they might be able to make these one actually work. But they are actually making good steps on this one.

  (31) posted on 03.24.2011

If they solve the issues of batteries... this would be a good one for future.

  (32) posted on 03.24.2011

Good one....using capacitors helps to solve the problems....

  (3) posted on 03.24.2011

No doubt...Flux capacitors, right? His next con for stimulus dollars.

  (428) posted on 03.24.2011

Yeah, he does have a good point there. Considering the rate at which battery development is proceeding, it is likely that it will be overtaken by more efficient energy storage devices in the future.

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