The cheapest lithium rechargeable cells at the moment are 18650 size, somewhat larger than AA cells. Since lithium batteries have about twice the voltage, the size difference prevents lithium cells being put into equipment designed for nominal 1.5V cells.
A recent laboratory developments has been the incorporation of voids in the lithium anode. These cells expand slightly as they charge and this may some lithium to leave the electrode. The incorporation of pores into the electrode allows the components to expand into the voids rather than breaking free. This will allow for quicker charging, a longer life and a higher capacity.
Battery technology seems to be following a version of ‘Moore’s Law’ in that capacity is doubling every five years or less – and of course the price of lithium batteries is coming down. I estimate that in five years the Tesla S will have a range of 600miles (up from the current 300) which will make electric cars very cost-effective.
A great deal of technology has gone into reciprocating car engines and there will be a great deal of resistance for manufacturers to abandon the internal combustion motor. I remember how long the old contact breaker points in distributors soldiered on in the face of solid state switching. No doubt legislation will hasten the adoption of electric vehicles as towns and cities ban polluting vehicles from their centres.
The Tesla model S. Changing the fuse, connectors and inverter allowed this model to reach 60mph in 2.8 seconds – quicker than the fastest McLaren. Not bad for a family hatch back!