Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Former Tesla Battery Supply Chain Manager: What You Should Know About Batteries (Video)

Vivas Kumar is a Principal at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a market intelligence firm covering the electric vehicle industry. He previously managed the global lithium-ion battery supply chain at Tesla (2016–2019). Kumar was responsible for sourcing over 100 materials used to make batteries at Tesla.

Originally published on EV Annex.
By Eli Burton

Vivas Kumar is a Principal at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, a market intelligence firm covering the electric vehicle industry. He previously managed the global lithium-ion battery supply chain at Tesla (2016–2019). Kumar was responsible for sourcing over 100 materials used to make batteries at Tesla. He executed deals with some of the world’s largest chemicals, mining, and industrials companies, as well as major governments — across six continents.

Photo courtesy of Vivas Kumar (left). Battery pack schematic via Tesla (right).

Along with Anuarbek Imanbaev, I got a chance to chat with Vivas Kumar about his views on batteries and prior experience at Tesla. We had a lengthy discussion (over an hour long) covering a myriad of fascinating topics. A handful of key takeaways are highlighted here in this article. That said, for a far more comprehensive overview, it’s recommended you check out the video below for a deep dive into the subject.

First, some background. Lithium-ion batteries got their name because of the way the battery charges and discharges. And it’s worth noting that Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a comment about five years ago that the batteries should actually be called nickel-graphite batteries because the majority of the material in the cathode and anode is, in fact, graphite and nickel.

Car vs. Phone

Consider this: in an Apple iPhone, there’s more lithium ion in your screen than inside the phone’s battery. To be clear, a Tesla is different than an iPhone. You can replace the battery in an iPhone without much difficulty or cost. Not so in a Tesla. And your expectations of your iPhone battery are different than that of your car. If your iPhone suddenly dies at 10% battery life, it’s annoying but you can live with it. It’s not so easy to accept the same thing for your car. So, unlike an iPhone, in an electric car, the battery should be considered a critical (perhaps the most important) component.

High-Quality Source Materials

To meet the highest standards, electric cars need high-quality materials to ensure vehicle performance and reliability. It all comes down to impurities — the less impurity, the higher the quality of the source material. Just like with phone batteries, not all EV batteries share the same quality of source materials. Keep in mind: “lithium-ion battery” is a catch-all phrase, but lithium-ion batteries (across the industry) are simply not all the same.

Finding Lithium

The majority of consumed lithium comes from hard rock mines in Australia or brine ponds in South America in a region called the Lithium Triangle. Lithium exists in many places in the world, but there are only a few places where it’s cost-effective to extract it with today’s technology. Lithium even exists in the air, but as of now, we can’t extract it in its airborne form.

Why 90% State of Charge?

Batteries have a happy number (percentage state of charge) so that they aren’t over extended. The type, form factor, and chemistry all play a role in that number. For Tesla, that ideal number is 85-90%, but it won’t be that way for every manufacturer.

Why Tesla is Winning on Batteries

The chemicals used in the battery cell start to degrade the constituent materials over time. The materials in the cell can improve the quality, purity, and overall design of the pack. Electric vehicle automakers tend to look at batteries via the pack, not just cells. How you handle battery pack management is critical to longevity and the potential (someday) to reach a million-mile battery.

One example of why Tesla is getting so much more range with similar-sized battery packs could be (in part) because legacy automakers may be expecting higher rates of failure over time than Tesla. Just like the game of sourcing good quality batteries is controlling the impurities, the game of good battery management is controlling the failures.

Eli Burton is proud to be friends with the Real Life Starman and just attended the recent SpaceX launch. He is also President and Founder of the My Tesla Adventure Tesla Owner Club. Eli is also co-host of the Tesla Geeks Show podcast and creator of The Adventures of Starman comic book series.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Written By

We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people, organizations, agencies, and companies.


#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.


Support our work today!


Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports


EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats


Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like


A few weeks ago, the Teslasphere was abuzz with the rumor that Toyota was going to partner with Tesla to build an electric crossover....


Pegatron, a company based out of Taiwan, will build a plant in El Paso, Texas, that will provide components for Tesla, Reuters reports. Pegatron...


Andy Slye put together a neat comparison: Tesla vs. Gas: the true charging cost after 75,000 miles. One of the main reasons Andy bought...


Dear Governor Edwards, I am writing this on behalf of my fellow friends in our state, Louisiana, as well as for myself. I am...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.