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Batteries Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Published on September 1st, 2013 | by James Ayre

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Tesla Motors Likely To Start Buying Batteries From Samsung (As Well As Panasonic)



Originally published on CleanTechnica sister site Ecopreneurist.

Tesla Motors is now in the process of diversifying its battery sourcing, according to recent reports — rather than sourcing the lithium cells used in the Model S exclusively from Panasonic, as has been the case, the EV manufacturer will soon be receiving batteries from some of Panasonic’s competitors, as well.

A source “close to the matter,” cited by The Korea Herald, reports that Samsung SDI will be the first, or among the first, to supply an alternative to the Panasonic battery to Tesla. Samsung SDI already produces the lithium cells used in the BMW i3 and the Fiat 500e, and it’s rumored that the company has a contract with Volkswagen.

The need for diversification is — as I’m sure you can guess — the result of the Model S’s great success. Current estimates are that more than 21,000 units of the popular vehicle will be produced this year, and that number may actually double by next year — with that level of growth in mind, it’s no surprise that Tesla is looking to strengthen its supply lines.

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Image Credit: Tesla Motors

Autoblog Green has more:

The automaker may eventually have a need for more lithium cells than the entire laptop industry and finds itself one earthquake (or other natural disaster) away from a huge production disruption. If previous rumors and an unidentified source used by The Korea Herald for a recent report are to be believed, Samsung SDI will be the first to offer an alternative to Tesla’s traditional Japanese supplier.

The deal is yet to be finalized, with testing still ongoing. According to the report, LG Chem was also in the running but was beat out by its Korean competitor and Chinese battery maker BYD may be working out its own deal.

For its part, Panasonic is not sitting still. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Japanese company is increasing its production of automobile-specific lithium cells, with two separate facilities in Osaka Prefecture coming online in 2014 to boost output. Battery sales are becoming increasingly important to the company’s bottom line, adding 4.1 billion yen ($41.66 million US at today’s rates) to its balance sheet last quarter.

Something to keep in mind– with an increased level of competition amongst those supplying Tesla with batteries, prices for Tesla’s high-energy capacity 18650-format battery will probably drop, while the technology for producing them will probably improve.

Good news as Tesla begins expanding into the European market.







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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Steeple

    So when do Chile and China get together and form a Lithium cartel? I suspect a few people are starting to worry about that.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Perhaps you aren’t aware of the lithium plants opening around the world? Including in the US….

      • Steeple

        Will be entertaining to watch how people defend that certain mining is good while other mining is bad.

        • Dr_T_Gasman

          Lithium isn’t mined. It involves using brine to leach the lithium salt out of solution. The leaching materials (brine) and byproducts (potash, boron) are fulreusable a

          • Bob_Wallace

            Lithium is mined. Extracting from brine is a less expensive process.

            http://rodinialithium.com/lithium/lithium_mining/

            Prior to China taking over lithium production via underpricing the market we mined lithium in North Carolina. And we’re developing a lithium mine in Wyoming.

            Bolivian lithium is not a brine but salt flats which are harvested by surface mining.

        • Dr_T_Gasman

          Lithium isn’t mined. It involves using brine to leach the lithium salt out of solution. The leaching materials (brine) and byproducts (potash, boron) are fully reusable and/or available for secondary use.
          (i.e., does not involve dwarves with pickaxes.)

  • aseuss

    It is smart for Tesla to diversify away from Japanese suppliers like Panasonic, because demand for cells is going to skyrocket not just because of Tesla but because Toyota is now working with Panasonic to build its lithium-ion fuel cells.

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