Elon Musk has announced that Tesla has developed a faster, cheaper battery making process and expects to offer a $25,000 electric vehicle with improved battery technology within the next three years. The announcement was made at his Battery Day event, in which he said that Tesla plans to begin building Terafactories with greater manufacturing capacities than the current Gigafactories.
The new battery is an improved “tabless” lithium-ion battery that is less time-consuming to manufacture and can be charged more quickly than the batteries that are currently used in electric vehicles. The battery can be manufactured using less water and fewer moving parts.
“This is not just a concept or a rendering. We are starting to ramp up manufacturing of these cells at our pilot 10-gigawatt-hour facility around the corner,” said vice president Drew Baglino, who is in charge of powertrain and energy engineering for Tesla.
Tesla anticipates that, eventually, electric vehicles will make gasoline-powered vehicles obsolete. It aims to outpace most electric vehicle manufacturers in the quality of its manufacturing techniques. To that end, Musk also announced the creation of a new aluminum alloy that will allow the casting of the front and rear sections of its cars in larger segments. The battery will act as a structural element in between the two sections.
“Eventually, every car company will have electric cars, but not every company will be great at manufacturing,” Musk said. “Tesla is aiming to be the best at manufacturing of any company on Earth.”
Tesla expects that the increased capacity and improved mass production of batteries will help bring the cost of electric vehicles down. It expects that the cheaper price tag will help to improve sales by making it affordable to more consumers. Its current least expensive model, the Model 3 sedan, currently has a base price of $35,000.
Musk estimated that it could take one to two years for the first of the new Terafactories to reach full manufacturing capacity. He indicated that the Gigafactories, although only a few years old, can be considered obsolete and will likely be replaced once the planned Terafactories are up and running: “The Gigafactory is too small, and it costs too much.”
At the Battery Day event, attendees could sit in Tesla vehicles parked at the event venue and honk their horns to show approval. The announcement of more efficient battery production techniques generated several honks.
Materials Sourcing in North America
Tesla has already indicated an interest in sourcing its raw materials from carbon-neutral mining operations in North America. It has already opened talks with the Canadian-based mining firm Giga Metals for sustainable sourcing of nickel. Tesla has also identified a site in Nevada with sizable deposits of silicon and lithium and has obtained a mining permit covering 10,000 acres at the site. This will help Tesla avoid some of the costs, complications, and potential public relations pitfalls that come with importing raw materials from other parts of the world.
“There really is enough lithium in Nevada alone to electrify the entire U.S. fleet,” said Baglino at the Battery Day event.
Meanwhile, sales of existing and upcoming Tesla models continue to plug along. Musk indicated that preorders for its planned Cybertruck has passed 500,000 and Tesla may produce a smaller version.