An Invention Using Legos Could Bode Well for Tesla's Future

A 20-year old Romanian named Raul Oaida recently caught my attention by posting a YouTube video of a life-size car he made out of more than 500,000 Lego pieces. Here's the real kicker though, the car was powered by a compressed air powered engine. I've been discussing compressing air for battery storage (see recent podcast) and believe the Lego story could be indicative of more effective battery solutions which can be used by both automakers and even utility players looking to store more power.

Nissan (NASDAQOTH: NSANY  ) has been using air-cooled batteries in the all-electric Leaf sedan, but there have been reports that use in hot or cold climates may degrade battery capacity. Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) , which uses liquid-cooled batteries in the Model S and has publicly called the Leaf battery "primitive", was granted a patent thus summer which suggests the automaker may be bringing metal-air battery technology to future vehicles in order to significantly boost range even further. Since Tesla can't rely on Panasonic alone for batteries, the Lego car shows that innovation is possible and that's really the bet when it comes to investing in all electric vehicles. 

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  • Report this Comment On January 01, 2014, at 9:56 PM, dannystrong wrote:

    Apparently the word is out at the Fool: every story must have a positive spin for Fool darling Tesla.

    … and by the way, supposed top speed on that lego car (which it has never reached) is 15mph. At that speed, the 256 (yes, 256) lego pistons are in serious danger of destroying themselves. Or if hitting a bump -- any bump. But, it is a useful vehicle -- for a positive mention of Tesla.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 10:42 AM, hunter3203 wrote:

    Exactly how does a compressed air engine signal something new for battery technology? Batteries aren't the only way to store energy of course. Flywheels, hydraulic and air tanks can also store energy. A hydraulic hybrid is already in testing for large trucks like garbage trucks, etc. It works but it's quite loud. Not a problem on a truck but not really practical for a passenger car.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 11:12 AM, 11x wrote:

    OK, you got me, I clicked on the article because of the grabby headline to read about a lego car that has absolutely nothing to do with Tesla motors or batteries. I'm sure the CEO of Tesla is calling that lego car builder right now to see how much he wants for his patents.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 11:38 AM, DRayZ wrote:

    Until the basic problem with electric cars is solved, they will remain a niche product. How do we produce the electric power necessary to charge energy storage devices (notice I did not say batteries) without creating more environmental pollution?

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 12:47 PM, JRP3 wrote:

    The author clearly has no idea that the technologies he is discussing have no relation. Compressed air storage, Nissan's air cooled battery, and metal air batteries, are in no way connected, even though they have "air" in their description. One of the most ridiculous pieces I've ever seen.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 12:48 PM, JRP3 wrote:

    DRaZ,

    It's called solar, hydro, wind, tidal, geothermal and Liquid Thorium reactors. I just gave you 6 different ways.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 4:12 PM, EdwardInFlorida wrote:

    I too must admit that I am somewhat confused as well regarding the title of the article with the actual contents. They don't seem to match much at all if you know what I mean.

    In regards to the patents that Tesla has been filing lately, it seems that the new "metal air" batteries are going to be coming towards fruition sometime in the next few years.

    Elon has hinted that a 500 mile range per charge Model S is a possibility but this is something that they are keeping "under their hats" for the time being, and for good reasons.

    Non the less, the future for electric cars is going to get much brighter from now on.

  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 4:22 PM, Mausser wrote:

    How would you create more pollution using electric cars when it would greatly decrease use of gasoline? Also, when electric car owners would charge their car at home, they will notice an increase in the utilty bill which will make them turn off all lights, devices, appliances that are not needed to be used. The important thing is that our demand for foreign oil would decrease!

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