The Extraordinary Raw Materials in a Tesla Model S
Presented by: Red Cloud Klondike Strike (Equity crowdfunding in mining)
The Tesla Model S is the world’s most-wanted electric car, with 100,000 units already sold as of December 2015.
Critics have lauded the car for its impressive safety rating, range, and design. However, it is also worth considering that it is the incredible raw materials that go into the Tesla Model S that help to make all of these things possible.
Here’s what’s in a Tesla Model S:
Body and Chassis
Bauxite: The Tesla Model S body and chassis are built almost entirely from aluminum, which comes from bauxite ore. Aluminum is lightweight, which helps to maximize the range of the battery beyond that of other EVs. The total amount of aluminum used in the car is 410 lbs (190 kg).
Boron steel: High-strength boron steel is used to reinforce the aluminum at critical safety points. Boron steel is made from iron, boron, coking coal, and other additives.
Titanium: The underbody of the Tesla Model S is made from ultra high-strength titanium, which protects the battery from nearly any roadside force or piercing.
Rare Earth Metals: While Tesla engines and batteries do not use rare earths, most high-end car speakers and other electronics use rare earth elements such as neodymium magnets.
Plastic: Most plastics are made from petrochemicals.
Leather: Leather is derived from animal skin, mainly cowhides .
Silicon: Glass windows and other features are made from silicon.
Carbon fiber and copper wire are also used within the interior for various components.
Bauxite: Aluminum alloy wheels are also made from bauxite ore.
Rubber: Natural rubber comes from rubber trees, but today 70% of US rubber is synthetic, made from petrochemicals.
Copper: Tesla’s high-performance copper rotor motor delivers 300 horsepower and weighs 100 lbs (45.4 kg).
Steel: The stationary piece of the engine, the stator, is made from both copper and steel.
The Tesla battery pack weighs 1,200 lbs (540 kg), which is equal to about 26% of the car’s total weight. This puts the car’s center of gravity a mere 44.5 centimeters off the ground, giving the car unprecedented stability.
The battery itself contains 7,104 lithium-ion battery cells. Here’s what’s in each cell:
Cathode: The Tesla Model S battery cathode uses an NCA formulation with the approximate ratio: 80% nickel, 15% cobalt, and 5% aluminum. Small amounts of lithium are also used in the cathode.
Anode: The negative terminal uses natural or synthetic graphite to hold lithium ions. Small amounts of silicon are also likely used in the anode as well.
Electrolyte: The electrolyte is made of a lithium salt.
Copper and/or aluminum foil is also used in the battery as well.
Note: all numbers above are based on the 85 kWh battery model.
Animation: U.S. Electric Vehicle Sales (2010-19)
This stunning animation visualizes the last nine years of U.S. electric vehicle sales. We also look at who will lead the race in the coming years.
It’s challenging to get ahead, but it’s even harder to stay ahead.
For companies looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage in a fast-moving, capital intensive, and nascent sector like manufacturing electric vehicles, this is a simple reality that must be accounted for.
Every milestone achieved is met with the onset of new and more sophisticated competitors – and as the industry grows, the stakes grow higher and the market gets further de-risked. Then, the real 800-lb gorillas start to climb their way in, making competition even more fierce.
Visualizing U.S. EV Sales
Today’s animation uses data from InsideEVs to show almost nine years of U.S. sales in the electric vehicle market, sorted by model of car.
It paints a picture of a rapidly evolving market with many new competitors sweeping in to try and claim a stake. You can see the leads of early successes eroded away, the increasing value of scale, and consumer preferences, all rolled into one nifty animation.
The Tesla Roadster starts with a very early lead, but is soon replaced by the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, which are the most sold models in the U.S. from 2011-2016.
Closer to the end, the Tesla Model S rises fast to eventually surpass the Leaf by the end of 2017. Finally, the scale of the rollout of the Tesla Model 3 is put into real perspective, as it quickly jumps past all other models in the span of roughly one year.
The Gorilla Search
While Tesla’s rise has been well-documented, it’s also unclear how long the company can maintain an EV leadership position in the North American market.
As carmakers double-down on EVs as their future foundations, many well-capitalized competitors are entering the fray with serious and ambitious plans to make a dent in the market.
In the previous animation, you can already see there are multiple models from BMW, Volkswagen, Honda, Fiat, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and Chevrolet that have accumulated over 10,000 sales – and as these manufacturers continue to pour capital in the sector, they are likely posturing to try and find how to create the next mass market EV.
Of these, Volkswagen seems to be the most bullish on a global transition to EVs, and the company is expecting to have 50 fully electric models by 2025 while investing $40 billion into new EV technologies (such as batteries) along the way.
The Chinese Bigfoot?
However, the 800-lb gorilla could come from the other side of the Pacific as well.
Source: The Driven
Chinese company BYD – which is backed by Warren Buffett – is currently the largest EV manufacturer in the world, selling 250,000 EVs in 2018.
The Chinese carmaker quietly manufacturers buses in the U.S. already, and it has also announced future plans to sell its cars in the U.S. as well.
How will such an animation of cumulative U.S. EV sales look in the future? In such a rapidly evolving space, it seems it could go any which way.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
It is counterintuitive, but electric vehicles are not possible without oil – these petrochemicals bring down the weight of cars to make EVs possible.
How Much Oil is in an Electric Vehicle?
When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…
Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.
Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.
It turns out the many everyday materials we rely on from synthetic rubber to plastics to lubricants all come from petrochemicals.
The use of various polymers and plastics has several advantages for manufacturers and consumers:
- Easy to Shape
- Flame Retardant
Today, plastics can make up to 50% of a vehicle’s volume but only 10% of its weight. These plastics can be as strong as steel, but light enough to save on fuel and still maintain structural integrity.
This was not always the case, as oil’s use has evolved and grown over time.
Not Your Granddaddy’s Caddy
Plastics were not always a critical material in auto manufacturing industry, but over time plastics such as polypropylene and polyurethane became indispensable in the production of cars.
Rolls Royce was one of the first car manufacturers to boast about the use of plastics in its car interior. Over time, plastics have evolved into a critical material for reducing the overall weight of vehicles, allowing for more power and conveniences.
Rolls Royce uses phenol formaldehyde resin in its car interiors
Henry Ford experiments with an “all-plastic” car
About 20 lbs. of plastics is used in the average car
Manufacturers begin using plastic for interior decorations
Headlights, bumpers, fenders and tailgates become plastic
Engineered polymers first appear in semi-structural parts of the vehicle
The average car uses over 1000 plastic parts
Electric Dreams: Petrochemicals for EV Innovation
Plastics and other materials made using petrochemicals make vehicles more efficient by reducing a vehicle’s weight, and this comes at a very reasonable cost.
For every 10% in weight reduction, the fuel economy of a car improves roughly 5% to 7%. EV’s need to achieve weight reductions because the battery packs that power them can weigh over 1000 lbs, requiring more power.
Today, plastics and polymers are used for hundreds of individual parts in an electric vehicle.
Oil and the EV Future
Oil is most known as a source of fuel, but petrochemicals also have many other useful physical properties.
In fact, petrochemicals will play a critical role in the mass adoption of electric vehicles by reducing their weight and improving their ranges and efficiency. In According to IHS Chemical, the average car will use 775 lbs of plastic by 2020.
Although it seems counterintuitive, petrochemicals derived from oil and natural gas make the major advancements by today’s EVs possible – and the continued use of petrochemicals will mean that both EVS and traditional vehicles will become even lighter, faster, and more efficient.
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