Inside the SXSW Interactive Conference

A New Battery Is Elon’s Top Priority, Not Tesla Model X

We’ve been waiting for the Model X electric crossover SUV for a long time, and there are some rumors that new reservations will be delivered around the fall of 2015. However, Elon Musk may let us keep waiting while he’s working on a new battery.

Electric vehicles are cool. They’re inexpensive to operate, they make our air cleaner, and they reduce the amount of climate change-causing gases released into the atmosphere. But right now, the initial cost for buying Tesla cars is still high, and its battery capacity is limited. Therefore, while lithium-ion technology remains expensive and somewhat fraught with technical issues, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has a plan that should make the battery cheaper, more capable, and more environmentally friendly.

TeslaRemember in an interview with CNBC last June, when Elon was being asked what’s tougher to achieve, an expedition to Mars or creating a car battery that costs less than $5,000? And the answer was: “Probably Mars”. That could be possible, though because investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars. 50 GWh in annual battery production by 2020 will be enough for Tesla cars powered by the renewable energy net zero energy factory. That’s a huge increase from current production rates. With the heightened production, Musk said battery costs would eventually be able to be cut by about 30 percent.

As Elon Musk has bet his fortune on the future of electric cars, and he knows that Tesla has to stay on the forefront of battery technology, he is reportedly working on graphene-based-anode batteries, which have been proven to more than quadruple lithium-ion battery density. Graphene could be what makes long-range EVs finally viable. As well as increasing the range of the Mode S to some 500 miles, graphene also allows for faster charging of batteries. And as Elon wrote in his blog, Tesla’s batteries are not toxic to the environment!

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