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... a 500-mile range and, say ... 20-minute (max) DCFC charge time?

I've always bought on the "back-end" of technology with all my new car purchases, and it's worked out fine for me because changes to the "major mechanicals" of ICE vehicles were always gradual (at least for the vehicles I purchased).

But with an EV, I'm starting to think - if I do the same thing, I could end up buying the 32" (Low-Def) CRT TV for $800 when I probably should've waited for the 48" (High Def) Flat Panel TV for $2,000.

Is there any indication right now that there could be a Television-like "step-change" in GM's battery technology in the near future (2-4 years)?
 

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Is there any indication right now that there could be a Television-like "step-change" in GM's battery technology in the near future (2-4 years)?
This is the near term future from GM:
Most will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast-charging capability while our truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.
 

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... a 500-mile range and, say ... 20-minute (max) DCFC charge time?
At current efficiencies (~4 miles/kWh), you'd need a 125kWh battery to get 500 miles. Other than the Hummer and Cybertruck with batteries announced in that range, Ford has announced one version of its new Mustang Mach-E with a 100kWh battery (but relatively low efficiency with range around 320 or so). Tesla has a 100kWh battery in their model S with a range of 390 ish. AFAIK, the new VW's will have a 75kWh battery. My guess is the next version of the Bolt will also have a 75kWh battery with about 300 mile range.
IMO, the only way you're going to get a 20 minute max DCFC charge time is with a solid state battery. And those are at least 5 years out. Max range looses some of its importance if the charge rate is very high.
Tesla had scheduled a "battery day" but cancelled due to COVID. Elon said the info that would be announced at battery day had blown his mind. Read into that what you will but I'm interested in what they have to say.
 

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Battery day is not cancelled, just postponed.
“We’re going to have to push out the date or attendance will be very low. Maybe do in two parts: webcast next month & in-person event a few months later?”
I would expect an announcement in the next few weeks.
I think the highlight will be the VPP applications with V2G, and V2H. This (TE) would benefit from the million mile battery more than the automotive division (TA). This could also be why two parts. What effect will the latest tech have on the automotive division and the energy division separately and then highlight the seamless integration between the two with the solar roof providing the energy source to complete the virtual power plant (VPP).
 

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Weight and volume of the battery are factors that literally weigh down the efficiency of an EV. Therefore we need to improve the energy density in order for the increased capacity to directly translate to range gains. If we were to have a battery pack with twice the density of a 2020 Bolt EV, we would end up with a 132kWh battery pack that gives you 518 miles of EPA range. In the interim, we might see cars with around 400 miles of range using battery packs between 120-150kWh in size.

Now, let's say things are optimal and we have an EV that can do 500 miles with a 120kWh battery pack. Great! How do we get a 20-minute charging time? Charging to 80%, or 96kWh, in 20 minutes means filling at a speed of 288 kW. So we need a 300kW charger. This is also being worked on and I think there are pilot chargers that can deliver that. CCS charging specs go up to 350kW, so we don't need to worry about changing standards. The thing I'm worried about is the high C-rate. Charging a 120kWh pack at 288kW is 2.4C, and that sort of speed is damaging with current battery chemistry.

So we need a high-density battery pack which is cheaper to manufacture than what we use, all the while tolerant of high C-rates. I don't think this is feasible in 5 years unless some breakthrough happens.

Going back to reality, 200kW chargers have started popping up across the world recently. This can be utilized by cars with 800V battery, realistically charging at around 150kW max. Assuming a 100kWh battery, it would see a 0-80% charging in 30 minutes and probably have a range of around 350 miles if the design is optimal. The maximum C-rate is around 1.5, so not quite as staggering and it's around something Tesla has been pulling off. I think these specs (300-350 miles of range, maximum DCFC in 30 minutes) will become prevalent in non-Tesla EVs in about 2-3 years.
 

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500 miles is equivalent to gasing an car with gasoline engine twice, more or less. With some charging during meals, one can go 600 to 800 miles in a day. With that, super fast charging, although nice to have, may not be necessary anymore. 75kw will be plenty.

Looking back. A lot of past advancements in EV have been just bigger batteries. Improvement in efficiency has been mediocre, except a few models. We need victories on both fronts to reach this target. We are not quite there yet, at least not at a reasonable price (without subsidies).

-TL

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There's still a trade off and finding the perfect balance which is unique to each individuals needs and use case. Lugging around enough battery for 500 miles when 95% of your driving is local and ~100 miles/day wastes a lot of energy lugging way more weight than necessary. I would rather see an accessory battery pack that can be plugged in as needed for those road trips. They could be modular and small enough for a single person to handle and allow maybe 10, 12v sized batteries that could add up to 30kW. Which brings us full circle to the practicality of hybrids.
 

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There's still a trade off and finding the perfect balance which is unique to each individuals needs and use case. Lugging around enough battery for 500 miles when 95% of your driving is local and ~100 miles/day wastes a lot of energy lugging way more weight than necessary. I would rather see an accessory battery pack that can be plugged in as needed for those road trips. They could be modular and small enough for a single person to handle and allow maybe 10, 12v sized batteries that could add up to 30kW. Which brings us full circle to the practicality of hybrids.
I'm not sure how well that would work. At current densities, 30kW = ~500 lbs. I don't see people shifting e.g. 10x 50lbs batteries as part of their trip planning (and they'd need a special compartment and safe mechanism to connect them). A small trailer seems simpler, but those tend to adversely impact efficiency.
 

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Weight and volume of the battery are factors that literally weigh down the efficiency of an EV. Therefore we need to improve the energy density in order for the increased capacity to directly translate to range gains. If we were to have a battery pack with twice the density of a 2020 Bolt EV, we would end up with a 132kWh battery pack that gives you 518 miles of EPA range. In the interim, we might see cars with around 400 miles of range using battery packs between 120-150kWh in size.

Now, let's say things are optimal and we have an EV that can do 500 miles with a 120kWh battery pack. Great! How do we get a 20-minute charging time? Charging to 80%, or 96kWh, in 20 minutes means filling at a speed of 288 kW. So we need a 300kW charger. This is also being worked on and I think there are pilot chargers that can deliver that. CCS charging specs go up to 350kW, so we don't need to worry about changing standards. The thing I'm worried about is the high C-rate. Charging a 120kWh pack at 288kW is 2.4C, and that sort of speed is damaging with current battery chemistry.

So we need a high-density battery pack which is cheaper to manufacture than what we use, all the while tolerant of high C-rates. I don't think this is feasible in 5 years unless some breakthrough happens.

Going back to reality, 200kW chargers have started popping up across the world recently. This can be utilized by cars with 800V battery, realistically charging at around 150kW max. Assuming a 100kWh battery, it would see a 0-80% charging in 30 minutes and probably have a range of around 350 miles if the design is optimal. The maximum C-rate is around 1.5, so not quite as staggering and it's around something Tesla has been pulling off. I think these specs (300-350 miles of range, maximum DCFC in 30 minutes) will become prevalent in non-Tesla EVs in about 2-3 years.
There is a balance of things in here. On the one hand, longer range will make faster charging inevitable. The voltages will be higher, and faster charging will be naturally easier to accomplish with voltage rather than Amps, thus less heat. But at 500 miles of range, you are then in the realm of overnight charging instead of DCFC charging, or at least one DC stop for a short duration to gain another 200-300 miles if you prefer longer days on the road. One stop per day for 30-45 minutes for a meal is probably realistic for most of us, unless it is some kind of race.

All I am saying is, with longer range batteries, charging speed becomes less critical...still important, but less critical to get more people into EVs.
 

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... a 500-mile range and, say ... 20-minute (max) DCFC charge time?
***
Is there any indication right now that there could be a Television-like "step-change" in GM's battery technology in the near future (2-4 years)?
GM is likely to release a vehicle with those specifications in the next 2 to 4 years, but you forgot the most important aspect of this question: Can you afford it? The Cadillac Celestiq is very likely to have a 600-mile range and sub 20 minute to 90% charging speed; however, it sounds like it is going to start at over $200,000.

In terms of what we can expect for affordable EVs (sub $40,000), I think that for the next 5 years, the best we can expect is 300 to 400 miles of range and 30 to 40 minutes to 80%. That should be good enough for most people, and what I would encourage you to do is set your own expectations.

Like you said, if EV capabilities start escalating in a similar way to TVs, you don't want to fall into the trap of consumerism. Set your baseline standard now, and wait until an EV model you like is release that meets those standards. To tie back to you're analogy, I bought a 42" 1080p TV over 12 years ago, and it still meets my expectations today.
 

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Ford has announced one version of its new Mustang Mach-E with a 100kWh battery (but relatively low efficiency with range around 320 or so).
Ford recently increased their charging time estimates by about 10%, and that seems to be because of efficiency, not charging speeds. Based on the numbers they published, it appears that the Mach-E with the 100 kWh battery (that possibly gross rather than usable capacity) might have over 350 miles of EPA range per charge.
 

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I can cover 550 miles in one day in my 2019 bolt. 8 hours drive and 2 hours for meals and charging. With overnight charging back to 100%, I can do road trips quite comfortably.

If I want cover more distance, one more stop and 2 more hours driving (13 hours total) can add to 700 miles. Quite enough already, I'd say.

-TL

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I can cover 550 miles in one day in my 2019 bolt. 8 hours drive and 2 hours for meals and charging. With overnight charging back to 100%, I can do road trips quite comfortably.

If I want cover more distance, one more stop and 2 more hours driving (13 hours total) can add to 700 miles. Quite enough already, I'd say.

-TL

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While I mostly agree with you, I can understand the counterpoint. I see a lot of people eating in their cars on the freeway (even Tesla owners when the nearby Superchargers aren't close to restaurants), so some people do try to multitask while driving rather than while fueling.

For me, if I had to identify my single biggest complaint with the Bolt EV on my regular 500 mile trips, it would be the number of stops required. Only having 200 to 220 miles of range at freeway speeds is a bit limiting, but the bigger issue to me is not being able to charge up to 80-85% in the same amount of time as a meal break (30 to 40 minutes). That means that over 500 miles, I'm pretty much required to make three to four stops rather than the two I would prefer to make.

I tend to make those trips alone, so perhaps it would be different if I were traveling with people (longer stops and meal breaks would then be more appropriate). In the meantime, though, the two ways to address my issue with the Bolt EV would be longer range, a flatter charging profile, or a combination of both. An EV with 300 miles of freeway range and 30 to 40 minutes to 80% battery would meet my basic expectations.
 

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I don't eat while driving if I don't have to. If there is no restaurant at charging facility, I will pick up some to-go on the way there. I will eat while charging. The car has to stop while charging, and I have to eat a few times in a day. If I overlap those two, there is little or no difference from driving a gasoline engine car. Good enough for me.

I'm a simple, stingy old man, who drives in the slow lane.

-TL

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For me, if I had to identify my single biggest complaint with the Bolt EV on my regular 500 mile trips, it would be the number of stops required. Only having 200 to 220 miles of range at freeway speeds is a bit limiting, but the bigger issue to me is not being able to charge up to 80-85% in the same amount of time as a meal break (30 to 40 minutes). That means that over 500 miles, I'm pretty much required to make three to four stops rather than the two I would prefer to make.
Where I travel, the DCFC infrastructure is just barely enough for the Bolt. I very often have to stop sooner and charge higher than I would ideally like. Many trips I never get to charge in the actual sweet spot of the Bolt.

Having a flatter charging profile would help a ton with this. If the Bolt could charge at 50kW up to 80%, with no other changes, my trips would be much faster. Each stop could be whereever there happens to be a charger, and the Bolt could be charged to 80% on longer stops (e.g. a 45 minute stop for lunch). As it stands, the "ideal" Bolt road trip only charges the car from about 15-55%.
 

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I'm not sure how well that would work. At current densities, 30kW = ~500 lbs. I don't see people shifting e.g. 10x 50lbs batteries as part of their trip planning (and they'd need a special compartment and safe mechanism to connect them). A small trailer seems simpler, but those tend to adversely impact efficiency.
It seems the battery swap idea that Tesla abandoned is gaining traction in China.
It would be interesting if they offered different options so if you had an extended road trip coming up, you could swap (rent) a bigger battery for the week and upon return, get your original 200 mile battery back.
They also have it down to less than 3 minutes so it destroys the only remaining argument from ICEV's about filling up quicker than recharging which was Tesla's intent when they tried it.
If these could be automated like a car wash and plentiful enough, it could work.
 

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They also have it down to less than 3 minutes
Maybe this is an item electric racing could embrace. It's been talked about. But they chose to swap cars instead. I bet this could be done in less than 30 seconds.
 

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If you think rolling out a fast-charging network is capital intensive, imagine rolling out "plentiful" battery swap stations!
It was a thing...seven years ago:

 

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It was a thing...seven years ago:

No it wasn't. Notice that I said plentiful battery swap stations. What Tesla did was a single prototype of a station, which is no longer in operation. I don't think it was ever open to the public. I am talking about capital and not technology as the limitation.

Project Better Place was much closer to actually rolling out a network of station. They folded for lack of capital.

Better Place (company) - Wikipedia
 
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