Global carmakers are already hard at work developing the next generation of mass-market battery-powered vehicles that should come with a driving range at least double that of current offerings, such as the Nissan Leaf.
The companies rely almost exclusively on forecasted technical breakthroughs coming not only from giant battery makers such as LG Chem, but also from incoming technological startups that drive up the innovation process. Their bid, catch up to Tesla Motors, a former startup that has its luxury Model S sedan offer a driving range almost comparable to a traditional gasoline counterpart. No less than four automakers (and maybe more in the near future), GM, Ford, Nissan and VW, are planning to compete with Tesla with mass-market products that can go for up to 200 miles (322 km) on a single charge. This would be more than double the figures achieved by the electric market leader, Nissan’s affordable Leaf (priced under $30,000) and the upcoming new generation of affordable electrics is expected to arrive within the next two-three years.
Tesla’s Model S top version, which has a range of 265 miles (427 km) between charges, is priced from $81,000 (without tax incentives) and usual mass-market electrics today only make around 75 to 85 miles (121 to 137 km) or less if cold weather or the air conditioning system are accounted for. So, the term “range anxiety” has been coined to illustrate consumers that want to travel more and fear the risk of getting stranded. The breakthroughs that will help automakers mitigate the fear concern the batteries, which have a much larger energy density and deliver the longer range via battery materials, design and chemistry innovations.