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With battery technology the biggest barrier to the proliferation of electric vehicles, companies like electric sports car maker Tesla are constantly surveying their battery options. At the Clean Tech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, Tesla Chairman Elon Musk said the company is moving its battery pack […]

teslaimage2.jpgWith battery technology the biggest barrier to the proliferation of electric vehicles, companies like electric sports car maker Tesla are constantly surveying their battery options. At the Clean Tech Investor Summit in Palm Springs, Tesla Chairman Elon Musk said the company is moving its battery pack production from Thailand to California, and wants to one day buy battery cells produced domestically as well — potentially even getting into the battery cell business themselves.

Musk said that in order to bring down costs and simplify logistics, the company will start assembling its battery packs — which are made of thousands of battery cells currently bought from Japan — in California (they were formerly assembled in a facility in Thailand). Musk called the homegrown solution “better than shipping battery packs all over the world.”

The fact that the U.S. has little battery cell production is a major hurdle for domestic electric vehicle makers, he noted, as it makes purchasing cells costly, and limits the diversity of the supply.

Tesla’s battery packs are filled with lithium-ion cells, which are basically units of chemicals, that provide the power. The Tesla Roadster currently uses 6,831 cells, and the company currently buys its cells from “Japanese manufacturers,” likely Sony and Sanyo, though it won’t go into specifics. With the company just starting to produce thousands of high-end Roadsters, the expense of the cells hasn’t yet been a major issue.

But as Tesla starts producing tens of thousands of its lower-priced sedan electric vehicle, code-named WhiteStar, and then potentially hundreds of thousands of its third-generation vehicle, the cost of the cells gets much more important, or “fundamental to long-term electric vehicle production,” as Musk put it.

The question is, who will do it? Potentially Tesla? “If we have to enter the cell business then we have to enter the cell business,” he said simply. He followed that by telling the audience that if anyone in the room had a domestic solution, “We’d love to buy” it.

  1. [...] Read the rest of this post Print Sphere Comment Tagged: Katie Fehrenbacher, Tesla, Earth2Tech, battery, Voices | permalink [...]

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  2. [...] assembly of the batteries for his company’s high-performance electric roadster to the U.S., earth2tech [...]

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  3. If I remember correctly, there is a company that was profiled here before called Altair. Don’t they have a fast charge, safe and reliable domestic lithium-ion battery?

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  4. [...] sports car maker Tesla told us this week that the company will be moving its battery pack production from Thailand to California. [...]

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  5. Green energy is definitely the best solution in most cases. Technology like solar energy, wind power, fuel cells, zaps electric vehicles, EV hybrids, etc have come so far recently. Green energy even costs way less than oil and gas in many cases.

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  6. [...] Model S. And Tesla has claimed that moving battery production to the U.S. away from Thailand was a way to cut down on logistics and distribution expenses — not necessarily because the company had shelved a side [...]

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  7. [...] I wish I could remember where it was, but somewhere at TMC was a debate over where the ESS is "made", and someone was arguing that it was "made in USA" since it was assembled here. Did someone delete that thread? I can’t seem to find it anymore. Related: Tesla’s Batteries To Be “Made in the U.S.A.” Earth2Tech [...]

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  8. [...] Regardless, ramping up production of the Roadster is a double-edged sword for Tesla. The company has limited capital — it had little as $9 million in the bank last October before raising $40 million in convertible debt the following month — and low margins. And Musk said in January that the initial production costs estimate of $65,000 “turned out to be wrong by a very large margin.” Even if the company has since brought costs down to around that original estimate, manufacturing 1,000 Roadsters will require tens of millions of dollars and hefty payments to suppliers (Tesla sources the Roadster’s rolling chassis from Lotus and the cells for its battery pack from “Japanese manufacturers,” likely Sanyo and Sony). [...]

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  9. [...] we noted back when Tesla was just starting to produce high-end Roadsters, the expense of battery cells [...]

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