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Memo to Tesla Motors, Inc.: Use Our Batteries

While Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) seems to be traveling at a headstrong 100 miles per hour toward building its Gigafactory, a factory with the capacity to build more lithium-ion batteries under one roof than in the entire world's production today, one small start-up in Japan says it has the technology that would put lithium-ion to shame. While Power Japan Plus' claims should be taken with a grain of salt, they're certainly intriguing.

With the battery built into the floor of the vehicle, and the motor on the rear axel, the front of Tesla's Model S can be used as storage. Photo: The Motley Fool

The claims
"The Ryden dual-carbon battery is the energy storage breakthrough needed to bring green technology like electric vehicles to mass market," Power Japan Plus CEO Dou Kani said in a May 13 press release.

The company detailed the battery in the release.

This unique battery offers energy density comparable to a lithium ion battery, but over a much longer functional lifetime with drastically improved safety and cradle-to-cradle sustainability. The Ryden battery makes use of a completely unique chemistry, with both the anode and the cathode made of carbon. 

The chief designer behind the battery, Dr. Kaname Takeya, helped create the batteries used in the Toyota Prius and the Tesla Model S, asserts the company's website.

If Power Japan Plus' claims are true, the lithium-ion battery could quickly become antiquated. Power Japan Plus says the Ryden dual-carbon battery can be made 100% recyclable, charge 20 times faster than lithium-ion batteries, and offer significant battery life of more than 3,000 charge and discharge cycles. And this technology could support a fully electric vehicle that gets 300 miles of range, the company says.

To Tesla Motors
How marketable is the battery? Power Japan Plus says that it is cost competitive.

[It] slots directly into existing manufacturing processes, requiring no change to existing manufacturing lines. Even more, the battery allows for consolidation of the supply chain, with only one active material -- carbon. Additionally, manufacturing of the Ryden battery is under no threat of supply disruption or price spikes from rare metals, rare earth or heavy metals.

Obviously if Power Japan Plus' assertions are true, this could quickly make Tesla's planned Gigafactory obsolete.

Would Power Japan Plus partner with with Tesla Motors? Absolutely. The company's chief marketing officer, Chris Craney, provided The Motley Fool with these statements:

Power Japan Plus could certainly enter a licensing agreement with Tesla Motors or any other automotive company that is interested in moving beyond lithium ion batteries to a battery chemistry that is safe, sustainable and cost effective.

And on the Gigafactory:

Tesla is building the Gigafactory because lithium ion batteries are so expensive. The only way a mass market electric vehicle powered by a lithium ion battery pack will be feasible is to drive down the cost of the battery by reaching very large economies of scale. The dual carbon battery is cost effective from day one, without even needing to reach large economies of scale, because the only active material is carbon, which is abundant and cheap.

Power Japan Plus would not comment on whether or not it is in talks with Tesla but did say that after coming out of stealth mode on Tuesday it is already taking meetings with multiple parties interested in the technology.

Fluke? Possibly. But Power Japan Plus is putting on quite a show if that's the case. Whatever the outcome, the news is a reminder that investors should expect battery breakthroughs in the coming years. And when breakthroughs in battery technology come, it could serve as an enormous boon for the electric vehicle market.

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Read/Post Comments (13) | Recommend This Article (12)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2014, at 5:29 PM, speculawyer wrote:

    Pffft. Be a little skeptical. There are battery breakthrough claims made every month. They rarely ever pan out. If they have something good, they'll provide samples for customers to play with and test.

    But usually, there is some snag like an expensive material, an inability to scale up manufacturing, reliability problems, thermal issues, longevity problems, etc.

  • Report this Comment On May 18, 2014, at 7:28 PM, deeageaux wrote:

    "[It] slots directly into existing manufacturing processes, requiring no change to existing manufacturing lines."

    If this is true how does this new battery make the Gigafactory obsolete?

    Tesla would still need at least 35-50 gigawatts of dual carbon battery.

    If it is cost competitive at small scale why not use massive economies of scale to undercut ICE products? A BMW 328i comparable electric car for $25k retail?

    But I would not take it with a grain of salt but a whole sack worth.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 12:12 AM, WaWa wrote: least Tesla should take a closer look to this.

    Grain of salt or not. Their Gigafactory can produce this 18650 technology as any other one. Why not?



  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 12:36 AM, Tedhu wrote:

    Battery requires lithium plus carbon minus the nickel and cobalt and such. License then retrofit for gigafactory. Plug and play into tesla. First mover advantage accelerated.

    They seem a bit coy about Tesla. They should be knocking Teslas door if the case is so self evident. The gigafactory would be an enormous opportunity for them.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 3:51 AM, garyrich2000 wrote:

    This may just be an attempt to make investors hesitate in building a gigafactory while some sleeper company comes in to build one before Elon does.

    Second there are many competing battery designs coming down the pipeline and most of them can be retrofitted to existing production lines that would complement the new factory.

    Besides, you remember when GM claimed to have a battery technology that was going to bring EV prices down to $30K with more than tesla's range?

    Turned out to be a false claim!

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 5:34 AM, deeageaux wrote:

    How do you know a battery scientist is lying?

    When his lips move.

    99% chance this is bogus.

    But Tesla needs to do their due diligence, ask for samples to test, and do a full "battery" of test.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 6:16 AM, clarke wrote:

    Tesla is trading at a one year forward price to earnings ratio of 109x. Despite the overvaluation, t he stock is a hold as for now. I read an article on Bidnessetc where they have analyzed the stock in a different manner.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 8:22 AM, JRP3 wrote:

    This dual carbon battery seems to have lower energy density than the cells Tesla is currently using, so no, Tesla should probably not use this battery, unless they want less range in their vehicles.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 12:06 PM, vet212 wrote:

    Why on Earth would any company use batteries to power an Automobile when CNG fuel cells are available?

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 12:23 PM, ashaskevich wrote:

    The gigafactory may now be obsolete. But then it was not Tesla Motors that made the NY to LA trip on the Tesla Model S. The Cross country trip was made by a retired professor and his gorgeous daughter.

    Elon got upstaged. But so much the better. It is just proving that electric is the way to go.

    Gigafactory gets upstaged? Again so much the better. Elon said he does not want to be limited to one supplier. This is only good news and as time rolls on, it will get better.

  • Report this Comment On May 19, 2014, at 1:14 PM, weaponz wrote:

    @vet212 - Same reason why every company prefers to use superior technology when far inferior technology is available. Why do you ask?

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2014, at 12:57 PM, Patwr47 wrote:

    The technology is real, but 10 years old. This is all puffery; an attempt to gain uneducated investment money before the curtain is pulled back. Is lithium ion dead? No, but it is losing ground to new materials and technology. The Gigafactory however, is dead. The new girl on the block will be "clean graphene" even before lithium air can get its pants on.

    Musk is the David Copperfield of technology. Some tricks work, some don't.

  • Report this Comment On May 22, 2014, at 11:47 AM, LaureyWilliams wrote:

    Tesla motors seems to produce pretty good batteries. What kinds of cars use their batteries? I have a older Mazda. Would one of these batteries work on that?

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Daniel Sparks

Daniel is a senior technology specialist at The Motley Fool. To get the inside scoop on his coverage of technology companies, follow him on Twitter.

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