I don't believe that TSLA is counting on any new breakthroughs in electricity storage. Of course, they would welcome any improvements, but Tesla is unlikely to jump to any new technologies in the short term. It should not be a factor for 2013 or 2014.
Let's revisit Tesla's previous choices in battery technology. Tesla could have chosen to use fancy new lithium ion battery chemistries but they didn't. They chose 18650 batteries that are advanced, but not so advanced that production was a problem. Therefore instead of paying upwards of $650/kWh, they probably paid half that. And now, in production, they may be paying even less, maybe $200/kWh. They get to capitalize on the widespread production of 18650 batteries that has pushed prices down. Instead of relying on new technology to be able to charge/discharge at high rates without sacrificing battery life, they used 8,000 cells to be able to charge and discharge at the rates they needed. They can charge at 90kWh with their own DC charging stations with these commodity batteries. They put in active thermal management in order to extend the life of the batteries as well as conservative SoC levels to the point that my calculations show the 85kWh battery life is likely to last 200,000-250,000 miles.
Tesla also has not chosen to move to the 3.4Ah battery even though it has been in production for quite some time. They are obviously not desperate to move to newer chemistries with unproven results. At some point, they are likely to move to the 3.4Ah battery. But just as they didn't move to the 3.4Ah version, they are unlikely to adopt the 4.0Ah battery early; they are likely to wait to have that battery prove itself.
So with all of this, Tesla doesn't need to have big battery chemistry changes. They are going to get the 3.1Ah sooner, and likely the 4.0Ah later. They don't need any radical jumps in battery chemistry for their business model to work in 2013 and 2014.
A normal OEM does not bring in a new engine until there is a major redo.
(Barring a significant problem or sales problem).
Until there is need I expect no major changes in the MS.
Styling changes they did for the Roadster.
They changed the drive train because of problems with the transmission. Otherwise No really big changes.
Good cost benefit analysis. At this point, what Tesla needs is to bring the cost of production down as the tech matures. That includes the current battery tech as you mentioned. Meanwhile, they got to deploy the SC network, rather than use the brute force of higher capacity batteries.
The rest of the components of the car should cost less with time. The electronics, including the inverter, tablet, etc got to be close to 3 years old. Costs must have dropped by 50%, especially with volume - at least of the components. Rest is labor that also comes down with volume.
Tech, good analysis. In the short run there is no point in adopting new battery technology which is only incrementally better if it comes with a higher price and unproven reliability. I expect that when significantly better battery technology comes along they will adopt it. We should see a Tesla with a range of 900 miles or so within the next five years using some version of the lithium-air battery now under development. By then Tesla will have established the brand, matured their distribution and retail operations and increased volume to the point where they can lower prices and still have excellent margins.
okulawd, you don't get it. For the customers that want Tesla's, there is nothing even close.
You buy what you can buy. New technology is always on the horizon. I'm saying that Tesla the company does not need to have dramatic advances in battery chemistry in order to build a successful business. Matter of fact, they aren't likely to be extremely early adopters as price and reliability are significant considerations and they are a beneficiary of advanced lithium ion technology built in commodity production levels.
At some point, when newer technology is ready, then they will use it - but they aren't desperate in order to make a very good business in the short term. And given that battery chemistry is likely to be incremental improvements over time, Tesla's products will continue to get much better.