Can Tesla Become The Next Disruptor In The Lithium Battery World?

- Jun 03, 2020-

Today, Tesla's tentacles have extended to the upstream power battery end, and it wants to build a low-cost, long-life battery with a lifetime of 1 million miles to achieve its first step toward the upstream.


According to Reuters, citing insiders, this new battery planned for the end of this year or the beginning of next year will be jointly developed by Tesla and Ningde era. It will mainly use the technology of the Tesla team and is expected to be launched in China. If the battery is successfully developed, the battery cost will be reduced to $100/kWh. At that time, the cost of an electric vehicle equipped with the battery will be the same as or lower than that of a fuel vehicle.


At present, although the cost of power batteries continues to decrease, it still accounts for nearly 40% of the total vehicle cost. The upstream power battery industry's oligopoly trend after several rounds of reshuffling has forced downstream manufacturers to independently develop batteries in an attempt to get rid of dependence on upstream power battery manufacturers.


Musk did not hesitate to pay for the battery. Last year, Tesla successively acquired two companies-Maxwell, a global leader in dry electrode technology, and Hibar, a Canadian battery manufacturing equipment and engineering technology company.


Today, Tesla and the Ningde era have joined hands to jointly develop batteries. However, whether this battery can become Tesla's "pass" to enter the power battery is not yet known.


As of today, the battery has not yet announced more details. Whether this highly mysterious product can be mass-produced on schedule is still uncertain.


SPOILER


Musk's battery dream has slowly moved to the stage from behind the scenes.


As early as September last year, Musk made a bold statement to launch a battery with a service life of 1 million miles (about 1.61 million kilometers) within this year. In order to realize the once arrogance, Tesla once again chose to hold hands with the Ningde era.


According to insiders from Tesla, "Some of our employees came from BMW. and CATL has done some projects for BMW before, they still have a greater sense of battery technology identification in the Ningde era. In addition,the localized supply capacity of CATL is very strong, which is more pragmatic and low-key compared to other battery manufacturers."


In addition to the excellent battery technology of CATL, Tesla chose CATL for its localization strategy of the Shanghai super factory.


China is Tesla's second largest market in the world, and accelerating Shanghai's localization strategy is an important measure for Tesla to further reduce costs. Compared with the United States, the unit cost of the Model 3 produced by the Shanghai Super Factory is reduced by 65%. However, the key parts of the current Chinese factory still rely on imports. The need to achieve 100% localization of Chinese Model 3 components by the end of this year has further promoted the cooperation between the two companies.


On the other hand, Tesla's old friend Panasonic refused to cooperate with its capacity expansion due to loss pressure.


Insiders said: "Musk's choice of partners is well thought out, holding in his hand the list of the world's leading power battery manufacturers. For radical Musk, the direct reason for the Model 3's inability to increase production is due to Panasonic lost the chain; LG Chem is also alert to it; Samsung’s electrification is not very active and the technology is a bit behind; in the end, Musk chose CATL by the method of elimination."


The cooperation with CATL will further accelerate Musk's entry into the battery side.


However, Musk's confidence in his battery dream comes more from his reserves in the battery field. In order to disrupt the new track of power batteries, Musk spared no expense to invest heavily.


In 2019, Musk successively acquired the global supercapacitor leader Maxwell and battery manufacturing expert Hibar to help Tesla independently produce batteries.


Maxwell supercapacitors have high power density, long service life and fast charge and discharge capabilities, and are widely used in many fields such as automobiles, grid energy storage, wind energy, rail transportation, aerospace, industry and equipment. Moreover, the company's dry process electrode is its core technology.


Hibar focuses on precision metering pumps, liquid injection distribution systems and battery manufacturing systems. It is an important supplier of primary battery and secondary battery production lines and has a complete set of production lines.


In this February, Tesla built the first battery production line pilot in Fremont and designed its own battery production equipment.


With the addition of this heavyweight spoiler, the power battery may usher in a new round of changes.