The Tesla Battery Day will mark a dramatic shift in the way the battery industry operates. This has consequences for the global economy, as the European Union pointed out last week. It points to battery technology as a key factor for a sustainable Covid-19 recovery.
What is clear is that battery makers can no longer develop new battery systems themselves in isolation – car makers have realised that this is a key capability. Tesla’s $200m purchase of ultracapacitor maker Maxwell Technologies gives it higher efficiency dry electrode technology for longer life time battery cells. This is potentially behind the Million Mile battery, boosting the lifetime of the battery pack from 120,000 miles to day to over 1m.
Tesla is driving a move back to a more integrated technology stack for electric car makers, where the brands control the battery technology and form factor and the manufacturers are added value licensees. This is happening with GM’s Ultium batteries, the Mercedes deal with Faradis, VW with NorthVolt and many others, including Panasonic and its joint venture with Toyota and SK Innovation with Ford.
But there are smarter ways to proceed, says a startup backed by the European Union.
“For other electric vehicle battery companies, trying to play catch-up with Tesla’s battery innovations may well prove challenging in the long run,” said Jonathan Carrier, Head of Business Development at InoBat Auto. “The traditional players have invested heavily to deliver a competitive technology roadmap to advance global e-mobility, increasing capacity and building new manufacturing facilities. However, Tesla may disrupt those plans overnight at Battery Day.”
“It’s anticipated, by Musk himself, that Tesla will announce some significant innovations and potentially disruptive twists in the ongoing battery-arms race. Tesla is pushing to increase vertical integration to grow scale and lower costs, while moving away from cobalt and realising significant improvements in energy