Hibar Systems, with headquarters in Ontario, was founded in the 1970s by German-Canadian engineer Heinz Barall. Since then, it has established itself as a leader in precision manufacturing of small cell batteries through a highly mechanized pump injection system.
According to Electric Autonomy, the company has developed an international reputation in the battery industry, with manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, and China. In a brochure, the company says the Chinese market accounted for over 50 percent of Hibar’s business in 2014.
Recognizing the huge demand for batteries in a Chinese market rapidly transitioning to electrification, Hibar created a subsidiary, Hibar China, in 2003. It now has two offices in China to manage Asian production.
Here’s where the story gets interesting. After September 16, the company’s website came down and was replaced with a generic information page. So, Electric Autonomy did a little digging. It began by looking at federal lobby registration documents on the government’s lobbyist registry database.
As of July 2019, Tesla Motors Canada listed no subsidiary companies authorized to lobby the government on various issues surrounding electric vehicles and infrastructure. On October 2, 2019, a new filing listed Hibar Systems as a subsidiary with direct interest in the outcome of Tesla’s undertakings with the government of Canada.
Tesla has not responded to a request for comment made by Electric Autonomy. When asked about the situation, Iain McColl, the president and CEO of Hibar Systems, said all inquiries should be directed to Tesla.
In the absence of any official information, we are left with what is hopefully informed speculation. Tesla has acquired Maxwell Technologies, a company with deep roots in China and advanced expertise in making supercapacitors. Hibar Systems has deep roots in China. Production of Tesla automobiles in China is set to begin by the end of this year.
Tesla has been hinting that it may produce its own battery cells in the near future. Elon Musk has also suggested recently that his company is on the verge of offering batteries with the ability to last 1 million miles. Lastly, Tesla has a 5 year contract for advanced battery research with Jeff Dahn of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The conclusion? Tesla is committed to being a global leader in battery design and manufacturing now and into the foreseeable future. It has often been suggested that Tesla is not a car company that also makes batteries but rather a battery company that also makes cars.
While the world is fixated on the latest Tesla vehicle firmware updates and the arrival of the Model Y, the real news may be that Tesla is poised to dominate battery technology now and in the future. All the nattering nabobs of negativism in the investment community who wring their hands about Tesla missing its goal of delivering 100,000 vehicles in the last quarter (delivering 97,000 instead) may well be missing a larger point.
In a world where batteries are clearly the key to a zero carbon future, Tesla is a clear leader in energy storage technology and has every intention of remaining in the forefront of the industry.