A Closer Look at the ‘Blade Battery' That Tesla Will Reportedly Use for its $25,000 EV
The auto industry was abuzz last week after reports that electric automaker Tesla will use a new type of "Blade Battery" for its rumored "Model 2", a compact and affordable EV that will reportedly cost under $25,000 and offer a range of around 250 miles.
The new Blade Battery was developed by FinDreams Battery, an independent subsidiary of Chinese automaker BYD, which is also a major supplier of EV batteries to other automakers. In April, BYD announced that all of its future fully electric vehicles will use the new Blade Battery.
BYD unveiled its Blade Battery in March 2020. With it, the company aims to completely end the safety issues of EVs, such as battery fires.
BYD Chairman and President, Wang Chuanfu, called the Blade Battery a "gift to the industry", as the company is willing to share it with other automakers. "In the future, we will share all of our technologies and products with the world," said Chuanfu during the unveiling of the Blade Battery last year.
The proprietary Blade Battery design resembles a sword or saw blade with positive and negative terminals at each end. Although a saw blade can easily be flexed from side-to-side, it's rigid when trying to bend up and down. It's this same concept that makes the individual blade battery cells act as structural support inside of the battery pack.
Once installed in a battery pack, honey-combed structural panels provide sufficient support to the battery pack. Each long Blade Battery acts as a support beam, adding strength to the entire pack, according to BYD.
The Blade Battery was also designed to maximize the use of available space within the battery pack. BYD says that the Blade battery offers higher space utilization than a conventional EV battery.
Each "Blade" is 96 centimeters long, 9 cm tall, and 1.35 cm wide. The single cells are arranged together in an array and then inserted into a battery pack. The design is known as "cell-to-pack" technology and eliminates having to use individual battery modules inside the pack that each require a seperate thermal management system and electronics.
With this configuration, use of available space is increased by over 50% compared to conventional cylindrical lithium-ion phosphate batteries, which gives the batteries a higher energy density as more cells can fit.
An overview of the BYD Blade Battery and pack.
The other concern the Blade battery addresses is safety. One of the biggest problems hindering the development of the EV market is the combustion and explosion of lithium ion batteries.
Electric vehicles from Tesla, Hyundai, General Motors and NIO Inc. have all experienced battery fires from overheating. But as EV adoption ticks upward, the risks of battery fire only increases, unless of course EV batteries can be made safer.
In February, Hyundai announced its was recalling around 82,000 electric vehicles to replace battery packs that pose a fire risk. The recall is one of the first major recalls of electric vehicle battery packs by an automaker. Hyundai said that recalling the battery packs will cost roughly $900 million.
The Blade Battery uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) for the cathode material. It offers a higher level of safety than conventional lithium ion batteries, with outstanding strength, range, long life, and power, according to BYD. LFP is a more stable battery chemistry, even at temperatures as high as 500 degrees Celsius.
To showcase its durability, the BYD Blade Battery has successfully passed the industry's so-called "Everest" test of being punctured by a nail to prove it won't ignite. The nail penetration test simulates an internal short circuit of the battery, which is the root cause of battery fires or combustion.
The blade battery also survived an extreme strength test in which the blade battery pack was rolled over by a 46-ton heavy truck. The heavy truck test is more stringent than the national standard. The battery successfully passed the test without leakage, deformation or smoke. BYD said the blade battery pack was perfectly intact and ready to be used in an EV.
BYD also said its Blade Battery passed other extreme test conditions, including being overcharged by 260%, crushed, bent and heated in a furnace to 300°C. None of these tests resulted in a fire or explosion.
BYD claims the Blade Battery is currently the only EV battery in the world that can safely pass these tests.
BYD has 26 years of R&D experience in the battery field. The Blade Battery design and production line was developed entirely in-house.
BYD said its currently ramping up the production capacity of its Blade Battery. The company says that some of the auto industry's key players are beginning to rely on this ultra-safe battery technology.
As leading global automakers partner with BYD subsidiary FinDreams Battery, the Blade Battery is set to be successively installed in EV models of mainstream brands, including Tesla.
Unconfirmed reports out of China say that Tesla is already "C-sample" testing the BYD Blade Battery for a more affordable model that's in the works. It might be used in Tesla electric cars from 2022.
The BYD Han, a model that established itself in the mid-to-large luxury electric sedan market in China, was the first BYD model equipped with the Blade Battery. The Han is a close competitor to the Tesla Model S in China. BYD sold more than 10,000 units each month consecutively since the Han was launched in July 2020. It offers a range of 375 miles and can go from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 4 seconds.
BYD is actively contributing to efforts in China to significantly cut carbon emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. BYD believes that switching to Blade Batteries for all of the brand's future electric models will make EVs safer and help to accelerate the pace of vehicle electrification across the world.
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