Tesla’s Gigafactory partner Panasonic says it is developing cobalt-free batteries to become independent of the rare and expensive material in the near future. Meanwhile, Tesla released their ‘Conflict Minerals Report’ and also aims for further reductions in cobalt use.
Panasonic’s strategy has got top level priority with Kenji Tamura, who heads Panasonic’s automotive battery business, saying to analysts they were “aiming to achieve zero usage in the near future, and development is underway.”
Tesla already benefitted from said cuts as the battery cells used in the Model 3 got substantially less cobalt in them. Their nickel content has increased instead but Tesla claims with no effect on thermal stability (we reported).
Moreover, the EV maker has just released their ‘Conflict Minerals Report’ in an effort to disclose that Tesla follow “responsible sourcing” of so-called conflict minerals such as cobalt, that are often mined by children and under adverse conditions.
In the report, Panasonic and Tesla state: “We have visited many cobalt mines and processing plants that support Tesla’s main supply chain, as well as potential future suppliers throughout the world. We discuss with these suppliers the major risks they face and the practices they have implemented to mitigate these risks, including chain of custody controls and iterative checks performed from mining until customer delivery to combat illegal or artisanal ore use; on-site security and access control; hiring practices and management engagement to protect against child labor onsite; internal and third party audit practices; and engagement with local communities to maintain a positive social license to operate.”
In addition, Tesla has a Tesla Supplier Code of Conduct as well as a Human Rights and Conflict Minerals policy.
All mayor carmakers have been seen racing to secure their cobalt supply recently paired with efforts to reduce cobalt in their new battery chemistries at the same time.