If you needed more proof that Tesla is going to make its own battery cells, we’ve now learned that Tesla is building a pilot battery cell manufacturing line in Fremont and designing its own equipment to produce the cells.
For a few months now, Tesla has been rumored to be working on making its own battery cells for its electric vehicles.
It started with the acquisition of Maxwell, a supercapacitor manufacturer with some battery cell technology, and later at its annual shareholder’s meeting, Tesla all but confirmed that it’s going to manufacture its own battery cells.
Later, we reported that Tesla referred to battery cells as a new “product line” for the company in some job listings for cell manufacturing.
Now we’ve learned that Tesla is building a battery cell pilot production line in Fremont, according to a new ‘Pilot Line Production Engineer, Cell Engineering’ job listing.
In some of the listings, Tesla describes responsibilities to “drive design, commissioning ramp of a complex manufacturing tool that is the first of its kind at Tesla” to manufacture battery cells:
“Tesla’s cell manufacturing engineering group is looking for a highly-motivated equipment development engineer to accelerate our next-generation battery cell manufacturing program. This role will be involved in the design, development, commissioning and ramping of high-throughput equipment, while working in a cross-functional team to test, validate, and roll-out process and product design changes.”
The automaker recently acquired Hibar, a company that specializes in making equipment to manufacture battery cells.
Tesla currently buy cells from Panasonic made in Japan for Model S and Model X, as well as cells made by Panasonic at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada for Model 3.
The automaker used those cells, which they help design, to make their own modules and battery packs, but they have never produced their own cells.
It would be a brand new product line for Tesla.
The cells produced on Tesla’s new pilot production line would be the first official cells manufactured by Tesla.
Other job listings also show plans for Tela to produce its own battery cells in Europe:
“Tesla’s Cell Engineering group is looking for a highly motivated individual to program manage new cell manufacturing and equipment engineering projects. This is a cross-functional role that requires coordination between many different groups within and outside of Tesla. You will drive the development and deployment of new manufacturing equipment and processes, as well as planning and execution of new cell manufacturing expansion within Europe. Additionally build productive relationships with external suppliers and relevant agencies.”
The automaker confirmed plans to produce battery cells at its Gigafactory near Berlin, but it wasn’t clear if it planned to partner with a battery manufacturer, as it did with Panasonic at Giga Nevada, or if it planned to make its own cells, which now sounds much more likely.
I don’t think you can overstate how significant this is for Tesla and electric cars.
Elon has been talking about “a couple of thousands of gigawatt-hours” of battery cell production per year.
I think Tesla is going to use its new cutting-edge li-ion battery cell chemistry and produce it on this new pilot production line in Fremont.
Once they are satisfied with their newly designed production process, they are going to announce the deployment of massive production capacity based on that pilot production line.
This is likely going to happen at Tesla’s Battery Investor Day, which is now apparently Tesla’s ‘April Company Talk’.
We are likely going to see some incremental improvement in battery capacity, but I think the real killer features are going to be cost and volume.
Tesla is going to make sure that it’s not going to be battery-constrained when they bring Tesla Semi and Cybertruck to production.
Eventually, I could see Tesla expand into selling those cells to other automakers if their volumes allow it.
Tesla is also apparently doing something with batteries in Colorado – though I’m not clear on what it is exactly. If you know something about that, don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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