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Tesla Planning a New U.S. Battery Factory as Part of its ‘Roadrunner' Project

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【Summary】​Electric automaker Tesla is reportedly planning to build a new battery research and manufacturing facility in the U.S., as part of its secretive "Roadrunner" project, according to documents filed in California.

FutureCar Staff    Jun 25, 2020 9:00 AM PT
Tesla Planning a New U.S. Battery Factory as Part of its ‘Roadrunner' Project
Tesla is planning to add a battery production facility at its factory in Fremont, California.

Electric automaker Tesla is reportedly planning to build a new battery research and manufacturing facility in the U.S., as part of its secretive "Roadrunner" project, according to documents filed in California, Reuters reports.

The details of Tesla's plans were included in documents filed with the city of Fremont, California, which is the home to Tesla's only U.S. vehicle production factory.

The battery plant is expected to run 24 hours a day, indicating that the new battery factory will supply a significant number of battery components for Tesla's U.S. made vehicles, which may eventually include the Cyber Truck and Tesla electric semi.

According to the documents, employees assigned to the facility would total 470, of which 400 would "work in shifts, such that there are 100 employees working at manufacturing and production operations at any given time, all day, every day." 

Tesla's new battery plant would lessen its reliance on its current battery partner Panasonic. The two companies operate a joining battery facility in Nevada, on the outskirts of the city of Reno. Up until recently, Tesla's gigafactory in Nevada produced the batteries used in all of Tesla's vehicles.

Tesla also sources EV batteries from South Koren battery maker LG Chem and China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) for the Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built at its new Shanghai factory.

In May, Tesla revealed its working with Chinese battery maker (CATL) to jointly developing lower cost but more powerful EV batteries designed to last a million miles or more, which could significantly reduce the costs of the batteries for Tesla's vehicles. 

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has been hinting at a new game-changing battery technology since last year and said that Tesla would unveil it in 2020 at Tesla's "Battery Day", which was originally scheduled for May. However the coronavirus pandemic forced Tesla to change its plans and now its appears it will happen in September.

Musk wrote in a tweet on June 21 that September 15th is the tentative date for the company's shareholder meeting as well as the new date for Tesla's much anticipated "Battery Day", at which the electric-car maker is expected to reveal significant advances in its EV battery technology. 

The battery pack is currently the most expensive component of an electric vehicle. Tesla could boost the profit it makes from each vehicle its sells by developing lower-cost batteries with longer lifespans.

Tesla, which said it currently has a "small-scale" battery manufacturing operation in Fremont, applied for city government approval to build an expanded battery operation. It estimated construction of the project, including the installation of all manufacturing equipment, can be completed in around 3 months.

Tesla did not immediately comment on its plans.

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