What the fuck is Tesla doing?
With electric Semi-trucks looking very much like the next big talk of the internet, have people actually thought about a little known fact: vehicles are staying longer on the road, some fleet trucks slightly more than 20 years!
But the thing is, and I know this is like what anti-electric people say: Batteries loose their capacity over time and while in a model S a 50-75 mile of range loss over 10 or 20 years of usage might just be how shit is, for a fleet owner that is absolutely unacceptable because you can’t have your six digit truck losing its ability to move over time. If Tesla doesn’t replace the batteries on-demand and for free, the depreciation curve on those trucks is going to be insane!
It is true that diesel trucks also lose horsepower over time due to wear and that fuel consumption and maintenance is an expensive pain in the ass, batteries are not cheap and remain an evolving technology. Tesla also claims that you could expect savings of up to 200,000 dollars after two years of usage, but compared to what? How is a fleet owner going to take them seriously when their webpage says “Bad ass performance?”
Yet if you’re some hipster new startups and money is no object and all you care about is the environment, what exactly would the footprint of having to change batteries, an elemental part of such vehicles, so often look like? I can see the case for electric cars where you might cover at most 300,000 miles over say 10 years of ownership and the loads aren’t insane and the battery isn’t going through a cycle every few hours.
But this is all speculation, I am not a climate scientist and I’m not an engineer (yet!). I still think that we need to think long term and invest in possibly better ways of moving.
Apparently reusing batteries that are deemed useless for the road is completely possible as grid backups for green energy sources (wind & solar), in this state, batteries would probably last longer due to more average loads and less cycles.
Making an electric vehicle according to the UCS is about 14% more energy intensive, mind, this study was made with low capacity battery cars and it also later points out that the battery car could be almost 50% less energy intensive throughout its lifespan.
Recycling of Li-ion batteries is still in its infancy, but through different processes such as hydrometalurgy extracting lithium @ 50% efficiency and cobalt @ 25% efficiency from these batteries is possible. The study does not mention cost or enviromental damage due to the heavy acids used to carry this process out. after the hydrometalurgic process, batteries can be frozen and shredded to recover steel and copper.