More sustainable than 11 avocados.
Maximilian Fichtner is Executive Director of the Helmholtz Institute, a scientific organisation in Ulm, Germany that researches and develops electrochemical battery concepts. An expert in his field, he made an insightful comparison in an interview with the Berliner Tagesspiegel newspaper. Using a 64 kWh battery – the mid-range battery option for the Tesla Model 3 with a range of up to 450 km (approx. 280 miles) – as an example and assuming a lifespan of 2,000 full cycles of charging and discharging, Fichtner did the maths: this battery can last for a total of 900,000 km (just under 560,000 miles).
3,840 litres of water are needed to produce the lithium that goes into a 64 kWh battery. This sounds like an awful lot you have no reference point for this figure. But when you look at it in relation to the production of other goods, Fichtner explains that the water consumed here would be the equivalent of producing 250 grams of beef. Or ten avocados, 30 cups of coffee or half a pair of jeans. In other words, the much-criticised production of lithium for a 64 kWh battery is more sustainable than making a pair of jeans. “I always wonder why the lithium used in laptops or mobile phones isn't an issue in public opinion... but it’s suddenly a problem when it comes to electric cars,” said Fichtner in an interview with Tagesspiegel Background. Lithium is also used in huge quantities in many industrial and chemical processes.