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2020-05-15

The secret batteries of Tesla are designed to rework electric car and grid math

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Electric car manufacturer Tesla Inc. intends to introduce a new, low cost battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later in this or early next year, in order to ensure that electric vehicle costs are consistent with petrol models and that the Electricity Battery will live on a second and third life in the electricity grid.

For months, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tinkered with both investors and competitors, who promised to reveal significant battery technological advances on the occasion of a "Battery Day" in late May.

New low-cost batteries designed for one million miles and allowing electric Teslas to be sold profitably at the same price or less than gasoline are all part of Musk's agenda, informed Reuters about the plans.

The goal of Tesla is to achieve the status of a power company competing with traditional energy providers such as Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG Pa. A) and the Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) said that sources have a global fleet of more than 1 million electric vehicles able to connect and share electricity with the grid.

The new battery in the centre of Tesla's strategy has been developed together with the contemporary Chinese Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) (300750.SZ) and uses technology developed by Tesla, together with a team of academic battery experts recruited by Musk, three people familiar with the effort.

In other markets, including North America, additional Tesla vehicles will finally be introduced in improved versions of the battery with higher energy densities and storage capacity and even lower costs, the sources said.

Tesla's plan for the first time in China to launch the new battery and its broader strategy to reposition the company have not been reported previously. Tesla refused to comment on this.

Tesla's new batteries will build on innovations such as low-cobalt and cobalt-free battery chemicals and the use for long periods of time of chemical additives, materials and coatings, said sources.

Tesla is also planning to implement new high-speed, heavily automated battery processes designed to reduce labour costs and to increase production in massive "terafactories" by about 30 times that of the company's extensive Gigafactory in Nevada – a strategy that was telegraphed by Musk's analysts in late April.

Tesla's Redwood Materials affiliate, as well as new "second-life" applications of power-powered batteries in grid storage systems like Tesla, built in southern Australia in 2017, aim to recycle and recover such expensive metals as nickel , cobalt and lithium. The automaker also said he wants to provide consumers and companies with electricity, but he did not provide details.

Reuters reported solely in February that Tesla was engaged with CATL lithium iron phosphate batteries that do not use cobalt, the most expensive metal in EV batteries, in advanced discussions.

CATL has also developed a simpler and cheaper way to pack cell-to-pack battery cells, which eliminates the centre step of the bundling cells. Tesla will use the technology to reduce battery weight and battery costs.

The sources also stated that CATL plans to supply Tesla with a battery of improved Nickel-Manganese Cobalt (NMC) for a long-life of 50% nickel and 20% cobalt in China next year.

Tesla manufactures nickel cobalt aluminium (NCA) batteries together at a gigafactory in Nevada with Panasonic (6752.T) and purchases LG Chem (051910.KS) NMC batteries in China. Panasonic refused to comment on this.

Together the battery technology developments, the strategy to broaden the use of EV batteries and production automation on a large scale all serve the same objective: to revise the financial mathematics that has hitherto made the purchase of an electric car much more onerous for most consumers than sticking with carbon-emitting internal combustion vehicles.

"We really need to make sure that we have a steep battery ramp and continue to raise battery battery costs per kilowatt-hour, which is very fundamental and extremely difficult," Musk told investors in January. "We have to scale production of batteries to insane levels that people today can not even grasp."

For three quarters in a row, Tesla reported operating profits, almost doubling its share price this year. Nevertheless, the ambitious expansion plans of Musk are dependent on increasing the profit and sales margins.

A number of technical improvements in battery chemistry and design made by Tesla and CATL have originated in a small research laboratory in Halifax, Nova Scotia at Dalhousie University. Jeff Dahn, a pioneer in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and the grid storage, has been running the laboratory since 1996.

Dahn and his team started an exclusive five year research partnership with Tesla in the middle of 2016.

Among Dahn 's critical contributions are the chemicals and nanoengineered materials, which make lithium-ion batteries harder and more stress-proof, such as fast charging, and thereby prolong their lives.

CATL's cobalt free battery packs for lithium-iron phosphate have been lower than $80 per kilowatt / hour and battery cell costs have decreased below $60 per kWh, sources said. NMC battery packs of CATL are near $100 / kWh.

Automotive managers have said that the level at which electric vehicles are raw in parity with internal combustion competitors is 100 $/kWh in battery packages.

Battery expert Shirley Meng, a San Diego professor at the University of California, said NMC cells could cost $80 per kWh once key materials such as cobalt and necklace are recycled and recovered. In stationary grid storage systems, iron phosphate batteries, which are safer than NMC, may find a second life, lowers the upfront cost of those batteries for electric vehicle buyers.

By comparison, the new low-cobalt batteries developed jointly by General Motors Co (GM.N) and LG Chem, according to a company-friendly source, are expected to reach those cost levels by 2025.

GM refused to comment on its cost objectives. It only said earlier this year that it intended to "drive battery cell costs less than $100 / kWh" without specifying a time schedule.

Article Edited by | John Heine |

Jhon is an incredibly talented freelance writer. He has been working of about 18 months as a reporter for some internet based print-based newspapers. He brings together significant news reports from the Technology and entertainment areas. we hope you're doing well if you see any inappropriate phrases please let us know on our contact page at the bottom. thank you!    .

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