JB Straubel, the CTO of Tesla Motors, has said that he thinks Tesla will be able to charge electric car batteries in five to ten minutes before too long (without battery swapping).
He pointed out some of the challenges associated with this, but the fact that charge times have gotten down to 20 minutes already should give you some hope.
The challenges include: Tesla Motors’ vehicles — the Roadster and Model S — both have very large battery banks, and therefore would require an enormous current to charge in just a few minutes.
This large current can be provided with a Level 3 charging station which has built-in, powerful batteries to supply that current (and then the charging station batteries can recharge over the course of the day, until the next car that needs fast charging comes along).
The battery design also needs to be able to tolerate or limit the temperature rise caused by fast charging (maybe by increasing efficiency) — larger currents, in general, tend to cause more heat generation, in basically every device.
It is technically possible for prototype lithium-ion batteries to charge in less than a minute. However, commercialization of these technologies is a different story.
“It’s not going to happen in a year from now. It’s going to be hard. But I think we can get down to five to 10 minutes,” Straubel said in an interview with MIT Technology Review. He noted that the current superchargers, which deliver 120 kilowatts of electricity, “seemed pretty crazy even 10 years ago.”
JB Straubel’s statement didn’t come long after Tesla Motors announced upgrades to its Supercharger network, which would enable 20-minute charging.
Straubel said that Tesla Motors was able to achieve this because it designs and builds its own equipment, instead of just buying parts from third-party manufacturers as most manufacturers do (which doesn’t qualify as innovation).
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