That Battery Life.
We all about it!
Batteries are the forgotten half of the technology revolution. We’re all comfortable having a computer in our pockets, but most people only geek out on processor speeds and memory. None of that matters when you’re flashing 8% battery left with no place to plug in. Advancements in battery technology don’t quite follow Moore’s Law, but the incremental increase in power and energy density do allow our smartphones to be smaller, lighter and last just a little bit longer each time a new model comes out.
It’s all good until you have to recall your Notes.
Batteries are back in the news because they’re blowing up. That was a terrible pun. The only thing more terrible is pushing the boundaries of safety in the name of smaller, lighter, faster. The science behind it is pretty straightforward. Samsung probably went too far, and they’re paying the ultimate price. Their brand is going up in flames (sorry, I can’t help myself).
Boosted Boards are facing a similar issue, and I feel terrible for the team. Media outlets are quick to tie their two incidents back to Samsung, but we don’t have enough details yet. The guys are investigating what happened, and we should give them the benefit of time before passing judgement. I posted this on the Boosted Riders FB page:
Depends if it is a battery supplier issue or a software issue. Two boards venting isn’t good considering how few cells are in a pack.
Assuming they are using a high-quality battery supplier like Samsung or Panasonic, the likelihood of getting a “bad cell” is literally less than one in a million (>0.0001%). Samsung SDI makes 18650 cells in Light Electric Vehicles and Galaxy Note batteries. Panasonic supplies 18650 cells for Tesla. If you’re using a generic cell sourced from Tier 2 suppliers, the likelihood of having a bad cell in the pack is a bit higher. This is the biggest risk of cheap ebikes, or as we all learned last year, hoverboards. You get what you pay for.
Our battery manufacturing partner checks every single cell before it gets built into a Karmic Battery pack. So these statistically expected defective cells get tossed and they should never end up in the hands of a customer. That’s what I would expect from Boosted’s manufacturing as well. They should be able to trace back these errors and figure out an appropriate fix. I’m hoping it is just a software issue, and I know the team is working hard on it since they have a ton of patient pre-order customers waiting.
RANT: Ebike companies LOVE talking about their Tesla battery technology. I’m sorry, but this is complete and utter bullshit. No one is using a “Tesla battery” in an ebike. They are simply using the same battery cell size, the industry standard 18650 sized cell. But the quality of those cells vary widely, and the true innovation of Tesla is in the software controlling the pack, not in the cell. A vehicle’s Battery Management System (BMS) is more important than the cell. The systems design of how it all works together is the magic.
Even though this article quotes our friend Dr. Yang — HiTech Energy makes the Karmic Battery — the headline is a bit click-baity. Tesla isn’t making ebikes. But we are. We believe the best batteries make the best bikes. And we’re using better battery tech than anyone else.