Energy density of batteries is important, though it’s a rarely discussed aspect of today’s electric vehicles and their batteries. While range and cost are significant, an EV’s battery density will be what lowers the price while increasing the range. InsideEVs recently ran the numbers, comparing the energy densities of the batteries in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Tesla Model S P100D, and Tesla Model 3. While all three offer different ranges while also differing in costs, the publication discovered some striking similarities between the three. Energy density is commonly measured in watt-hours per kilogram.
By InsideEVs calculations, The Model S has the highest energy density at 250 watt-hours/kg. The Model S also has an older 100 kWh battery. However, the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are close. The Tesla Model 3, which has a 75-kWh battery, has an energy density measurement of 246 watt-hours/kg—just a smidge behind the Model S.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV has the least dense energy measurement out of the trio. According to InsideEVs, the EV’s energy density measurement is 237 watt-hours/kg. The Bolt EV sports a 60-kWh battery, which is the smallest battery pack in this test.
Right now, battery energy densities for EVs are topping out at about 250 watt-hours/kg. Going forward, advancements with build materials for battery packs will help increase the energy density while reducing costs. Researchers are already developing battery packs with energy densities up to 350 watt-hours/kg.
Much of the discussions about electric vehicles still revolves around price and range. The InsideEVs mathematical comparison test shows that while the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and Tesla Model 3 offering wildly different ranges—up to 238, 315, and 310 miles of range, respectively, and battery packs, they have similar energy densities. If automakers expect widespread EV adoption, costs will need to drop while range increases, especially if General Motors wants to release 20 new electric vehicles by 2023 and make a profit—which seems likely. Probably because pricier vehicles such as future Cadillac products will command a higher price point capable of masking the higher costs associated with EV production. However, many industry leaders share concerns that EVs will be out of reach for entry level customers.