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PHOTO CAPTION: Concept for Tesla Model 3 designed by Stumpf Studio

Tesla Model 3 and Falling Battery Prices

Will Tesla's Model 3 be powered by graphene pseudo-supercapacitors that can be instantly recharged and last the life of the electric car?

Published: 30-May-2015

Officially, Tesla has not revealed what its new, more affordable (for some, at least) Model 3 will look like. As of earlier this month, that reveal will take place in March 2016.

Of course, that hasn't stopped designers from offering their interpretations of what the car may look like. One of those firms is Stumpf Studio, which produced the conceptual rending above.

What we do know at this point is that it will be an estimated 20% smaller than the Model S. Unlike the S and follow-on X crossover due out later this year, both of which make extensive use of aluminum to reduce chassis weight, the 3 will use steel to help cut costs down to the $30-35,000 price range. And speaking of range, the car will have an driving range comparable to the S, 200-300 miles per charge.

While some designers take their cue from the current Model S, scaling it down, Stumpf Studio appears to have borrowed heavily from the BMW i3 and Chevy Bolt concept revealed at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

What the car eventually looks like isn't as important as getting its cost down into the $30K range and a big fraction of that is the price of the battery pack. From Lux Research analyst Cosmin Laslau we hear that both Panasonic and BYD could, by 2025, reduce pack costs well below $200/kWh. He's forecasting prices as low as $172 per kilowatt hour for lithium-based chemistry.

However, if graphene pseudo-supercapacitor developer SunVault can scale their energy storage technology, the cost of storage could fall to $75/kWh as early as the end of 2015. Even at today's $150/kWh price tag, fossil fuels suddenly become irrelevant.

At this point, the question becomes, how soon can Tesla and Panasonic convert their Gigafactory away from lithium and over to graphene?

Be sure to see EV World's interview with Maher el-Kady, developer of this promising new graphene supercapacitor. Also, below is a GE-produced video on UCLA's technology. Richard Kaner is el-Kady's supervising professor .

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