After the Annual General Meeting in mid-June, there were rumours that Tesla is going to manufacture its own battery cells using the technology acquired through the takeover of Maxwell. Now insiders are describing the existence of some kind of secret battery laboratory.
The recent rumours are fuelled by a report by US broadcaster, CNBC that cites five former and current employees describing a battery laboratory a few minutes away from the Fremont car plant in California. It seems that intensive work is underway to develop improved lithium-ion cells.
According to CNBC, the battery research staff at the electric car manufacturer are concentrating not only on cell design but also on new equipment and new processes in order to be able to produce the cells in large numbers. Last month, Tesla also published job offers for various engineers for the development and production of battery cells.
In Canada, Tesla is already operating its own battery research centre. A patent application shows that Tesla Canada Industrial Research, led by Jeff Dahn, is working on a new way of analysing the electrolyte in a lithium cell. The aim is to prevent the failure of individual battery cells.
Even if Tesla’s efforts to produce its own battery cells are successful, the company is likely to continue its cooperation with Panasonic for the time being. Tesla employees familiar with negotiations with the cell supplier indicated that the company will most likely work with Panasonic and LG to provide the cells for the Model 3 manufactured in China.
Neither Tesla nor Panasonic have responded to requests from CNBC.
At the general meeting this month, Elon Musk hinted that scaling of battery production to keep up with demand was currently limiting Tesla’s growth. Elon Musk, JB Straubel and Drew Baglino made comments suggesting that Tesla is looking to manufacturing its own battery cells. Elon Musk hinted that the scaling of battery production was currently limiting Tesla’s growth. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that we can scale as quickly as possible,” said Musk. But when it came to battery production, he said he “didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag too much”. Drew Baglino, vice president of technology, added that its best to be “master of your own destiny”.
More information has been promised at Battery and Powertrain Investor Day that Tesla plans to hold before the end of the year.