“We are an energy innovation company as much as a car company.”
Tesla CEO JB Straubel gave a pretty interesting talk this week at the annual Energy Storage Symposium put on by Joint Venture Silicon Valley. Some people are wondering if Tesla should be a battery company that makes cars as a side project. CTO JB Straubel will certainly fan those flames with the comment he made at the beginning of his presentation, “I really love batteries. I might love batteries more than cars.”
Tesla is obviously planning its game changing Gigafactory project which, when online, will supply as much battery technology by itself as the world currently produces now. Seperately Reuters reported this week that Panasonic wants to be the primary, if not only builder of batteries in Tesla’s factory. Some other interesting notes and quotes from the talk:
- “Tesla wasn’t founded to make cars. We have enough cars. We have *too many* cars. Tesla was founded to change the game in energy.”
- “We should be thinking bigger. We’re still thinking too small. The opportunity is enormous.”
- “Lithium-ion changed the game” in range, energy density and cycle life. That was the catalyzing event that launched Tesla.”
- In 2003, no one was doing lithium-ion batteries for consumer cars,” and now, “almost every automaker has a lithium-ion” vehicle in their roadmap. He called the improvements in battery technology over the last ten years “amazing.”
- “The Roadster was the biggest battery pack in a vehicle and people were terrified by a 50-kilowatt-hour battery pack. Now, that seems like old technology; it has improved a lot since then.” He noted that in the five years between the launch of the Roadster and the Model S, battery performance had improved by 40 percent. He said that battery energy density has doubled over the last ten years and that the curve is not starting to plateau.
- “The roadmap for Tesla has always been EVs for the mass market. We weren’t founded to make sports cars; we were founded to drive a revolution,” adding, “You have to sell millions of cars to move the needle.”
“Maybe this whole group is not thinking in large enough scale for the market size of energy storage.” Straubel said that it doesn’t require “too much napkin math” to see how 500,000 Gen 3 vehicles per year from the existing Fremont factory will start adding up to gigawatt-hours of battery requirements. Tesla expects to use almost 10 percent of global lithium-ion battery capacity today with its 3 or 4 gigawatt-hours of consumption. Tesla’s expected volumes by 2020 “break the model for lithium-ion capacity,” said the CTO.
There is much more here, definitely worth a read and I will try to get the video up as soon a s possible.