Tesla Building Its Own EV Battery Cells in Secret Lab: Report

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【Summary】Tesla’s taking the next step to solidifying its place as a major electric automaker by looking into ways to develop its own batteries.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Aug 05, 2019 5:00 AM PT
Tesla Building Its Own EV Battery Cells in Secret Lab: Report

It's taken some time, but Tesla's become the real deal. The American electric-car brand is the leader when it comes to electric vehicles. Consistently working on improving range, technology, and convenience in a way that other brands can't, Tesla has become a force to be reckoned with in the electric segment. But if there's one area where Tesla could improve, it's when it comes to batteries. 

In-House Batteries In The Works

For quite some time, Tesla has relied on Panasonic to make the batteries for its electric vehicles. There's nothing wrong with that, as Panasonic is one of the best EV battery makers out there, but having an in-house operation could help Tesla come out with cheaper electric vehicles with more performance. It looks that those are things worth pursuing, as a report by CNBC claims that Tesla is indeed looking into manufacturing its own battery cells. 

Citing five unnamed sources that are familiar with the decision, the outlet claims that some of Tesla's employees are conducting their own battery cell manufacturing research at a "skunkworks lab" at the automaker's facility in Fremont, California. The plant in Fremont is where all of Tesla's vehicles are built. The brand's batteries are manufactured in Sparks, Nevada at its Gigafactory plant. 

According to the report, employees are now looking into designing and testing advanced lithium ion battery cells, equipment, and processes that would help the brand produce battery cells in high volumes. The outlet points out that Tesla has posted numerous job listings recently for engineers and various positions involving batteries. 

Why Tesla Is Looking At Its Own Batteries

While Tesla is looking into manufacturing its own batteries, CNBC believes that the automaker will continue to work with Panasonic and LG to ensure that there are enough battery cells to power the Model 3. 

Beyond cost and better performance, Tesla has had issues with the number of batteries it has on hand. As the outlet points out, Tesla has been "battery-constrained" before, as the electric automaker didn't have enough batteries on hand to meet demand. The lack of batteries affected Tesla's production and sales – not only of its vehicles, but also of its energy storage systems. 

Lastly, going down the path of making its own batteries would also help Tesla become "vertically integrated," which is something Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been wanting to do for some time. "Vertically integrated" refers to being able to develop, manufacture, and sell everything it can, claims the outlet. 

In a recent move to help it surpass the current limitations of electric car batteries, Tesla acquired Maxwell for $218 million. Maxwell has dry battery electrode technology that could possibly increase battery energy density by 50 percent and eventually lead to triple the amount of energy density from current levels. Battery life could also be doubled. If all of this is true, it's a perfect partnership for Tesla to begin working on its own cells.  

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