ATS Automation Tooling Systems is a Canadian company that has fallen on hard economic times. In fact, it may be on the verge of filing for bankruptcy following a decline in business. recently. It owns a subsidiary in Germany called ATW Automation which specializes in assembling battery modules and battery packs for the automotive and transportation industry.
On September 25, Tesla agreed to acquire ATW Automation for an undisclosed sum according to Automotive News Europe. ATW Automation has about 120 employees and has completed more than 20 battery production lines for international automakers, says Automotive News.
The original announcement by ATS did not name the buyer and said only certain assets would be sold and certain employees transferred to a third party. But a person familiar with the transaction tells Automotive News that Tesla is the undisclosed third party. Reports of the sale were initially carried by trade news sources in Germany.
We know that Tesla is planing to build battery modules and packs at the new Gigafactory near Berlin and probably at the factory in Austin and Shanghai as well. The battery is the heart and soul of any electric automobile and Tesla plans to be selling millions of them in the next few years. While it is pushing the battery technology envelope aggressively, as my colleague Alex Voigt pointed out recently, it ain’t always easy moving from prototypes to production at scale. In fact, he quoted Elon Musk as saying, “Large-scale manufacturing, especially if it’s a new invention, is somehow between 1,000 and 10,000% times harder than a prototype.”
Tesla has announced recently it will transition to an entirely new large format tabless battery cell. Since no one is making such batteries at present, ramping up production will definitely require all the skill and knowledge available and perhaps that is what is driving the ATS Automotive acquisition. If we find out more about this, we will let you know.