Electric Car Runs on Laptop-Style Battery

By Matt Baume
|  Friday, Dec 31, 2010  |  Updated 12:45 PM PDT
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Electric Car Runs on Laptop-Style Battery

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Charging your oh-so-ecological plug-in hybrid or Tesla Roadster will be a little more expensive next year.

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The day might come that you can switch out batteries between your laptop and your car.

That's thanks to new technology being explored by Tesla Motors, which claims that its cutting-edge electric car batteries are cheaper and more lap-top-like than competitors.

Of course, "cheaper" is a relative term. The Model S, which uses the new technology, is nearly $60,000. The company, which has yet to turn a profit, expects that selling 20,000 units will be the break-even point.

There's no talk about the batteries' environmental impact. Batteries require extensive mining and manufacturing processes, and can cause toxic pollution after their disposal. And no matter how cost-effective or clean a car is, it's still a car, and requires toxic asphalt and tar roadways in order to get around.

In contrast to Tesla's cheaper cells, Nissan's much-hyped Leaf car uses larger, more expensive batteries. Nissan has said that because of the expense of building the car, they'll need to sell a half million before they break a profit. But the possibility exists that the federal government may step in to partially subsidize the project.

The Leaf costs about $32,000.

Those costs might still come down if consumers embrace electric cars. With gas prices expected to skyrocket over the next two years, drivers will certainly be interested in exploring methods to reduce their gas consumption. Some crazy innovators might go even further, and consider taking the bus once in a while.

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