Published on May 30th, 2020 | by Johnna Crider0
Tesla Master Plan, Part Trois (Sort Of): Battery Day
May 30th, 2020 by Johnna Crider
Tesla hasn’t officially released a Master Plan, Part Trois, but we could pretend this is essentially what Tesla Battery Day is. Sean Mitchell from All Things EV believes that this will reveal a strategy for more affordable energy.
Tesla Master Plan (Original): The goal was to create a low-volume car that would be expensive (the first Roadster). The funds from sales of that car would be used to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price (Model S/X). And then the funds from those sales would go to create an affordable, yet high-volume car (Model 3).
Tesla Master Plan, Part Deux: This introduced both new technology and solar energy into Tesla’s long-term plan. One idea was to create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage. While doing this, Tesla would continue to expand its EV product line to include all major areas, such as pickup trucks, semi trucks, mini transit vehicles, and the new and improved next-gen Roadster. While doing all of these things, Tesla planned to develop self-driving capability that is 10 times safer than average human driving. It’s doing this now through massive fleet learning and plans to give your car the ability to make money for you when you aren’t using it. (Hello, robotaxi!)
What Would A “Tesla Master Plan, Part Trois” Entail?
Sean Mitchell has a few ideas that he talks through in his video. He thinks that this coming Tesla Battery Day will be a roadmap for what is in the future for Tesla’s strategic plans. The first thing Sean predicts is that Tesla will announce that it has broken the $100/kWh price at the cell level. He also thinks that they might announce that they are increasing volume production to more than 1 terawatt-hour (TWh).
How could Tesla do this? One major way is to reduce the battery production costs. They can presumably do this by removing wet electrodes from the production process. Tesla will continue to implement what it has acquired with Maxwell, Hibar, and Silion — the question is how they are using and implementing their tech.
He also mentions that there could be other companies Tesla has acquired or is working with that haven’t been officially announced. The next thing that Tesla might introduce is the ability to increase energy density and battery longevity through chemistry improvements. Sean notes that it’s publicly known that Jeff Dahn published research about a 1 million mile battery.
Sean also points out some key notes about the Maxwell Dry Battery Electrode. It’s a 16× production capacity density increase, with 10–20% or higher cost reduction compared to state-of-the-art wet electrodes. Sean explains that even though there is very little known as to how Tesla will use Maxwell’s technology, he’s had some interesting conversations with a few shareholders of Maxwell (who later became Tesla shareholders). One person had direct communication with the executive team at Maxwell and has emphasized that this is a significant technology. This technology was something that Tesla was able to accelerate and bring to fruition what Maxwell envisioned.
Another important thing that Sean thinks Tesla will announce on Battery Day is battery recycling for reuse of raw materials. Extracting these raw materials from the ground is costly, so recycling them would definitely save money while doing right by our planet. He surmises that Tesla cofounder and longtime CTO JB Straubel’s company, Redwood Materials, could play a key part in this as well. Not much is known about Redwood Materials, but it is widely considered to be a battery recycling company.
The final element to Sean’s thoughts on Tesla’s pseudo “Master Plan, Part Trois” is that he thinks Tesla will announce that it has greater control of the early-stage supply chain. This would include the extraction of raw materials and the processing of them — especially lithium, nickel, and cobalt. Sean also covers the projected shortages around some of these, including lithium.
One of the last things Sean talks about is that RK Equity thinks that Tesla could buy Lithium Americas due to existing Tesla ties. The company’s Thacker Pass is the largest known lithium resource in the USA. It could make sense for Tesla to have control over the extraction and production of raw materials on the North American continent. He also touches on Trump and the trade war with China. You can watch his full analysis here.
Featured image: Tesla battery and module production in Giga Shanghai, courtesy Tesla
Editor’s note: The Thacker Pass lithium mine is only 225 driving miles (362 km) northeast of the Tesla’s Sparks, Nevada Gigafactory, and three lithium mines are about 200 miles (322 km) southeast of GF1: Albemarle, GanfengLithium, and Livent. The location of this lithium is a contributing reason for the location of GF1.
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