Elon Musk on Battery Cost: Iron Alleviates The Problem

About three days ago Dr. Maximilian Holland published an in-depth article in Clean Technical about the upcoming Tesla Battery Day and Tesla’s battery advances asking, “Has Elon Musk Already ‘Leaked’ the battery technology that will give scale to the electric vehicle revolution.” Elon tweeted a reply to that story after it was shared on Twitter, writing, “no, but you make some great points.” Then Elon goes into some more details in his response, writing about the battery cost and what alleviates the problem.

In this report, let’s take a look at Dr. Holland’s story in Clean Technica, discuss some of his points about electric battery cost, nickel and iron, and what makes the problem. Then we will apply Elon’s tweet to that and will have a picture of what “some great points” Dr. Holland made in his article.

First, Holland breaks down what Elon Musk has already said, writing the following.

Here is what Elon already said in the Q2 call for those who didn’t catch it the first time around (this time with italics):

“The real limitation on Tesla growth is cell production at an affordable price, that’s the real limit, so that’s why we’re going to talk a lot more about this on battery day because this is the fundamental scaling constraint.”

“There are two general classes of the cell, there’s iron phosphate [LFP] and then the nickel-based. Nickel-based cells have higher energy density so longer range obviously those are needed for something like the Semi where every unit of mass that you add in battery pack you have to subtract in cargo. So it’s very important to have a mass efficient and long-range pack.

“However, what we’re seeing with our passenger vehicles is that total vehicle efficiency has gotten good enough that we actually are comfortable having an LFP pack in Model 3 in China, and that will be in volume production later this year. So we think that getting a range that is in the high 200s… you probably get a range of almost 300 miles, with an iron phosphate pack, taking into account a whole bunch of powertrain and other vehicle efficiencies.” Elon Musk, 2020 Q2 Tesla earnings call.

Holland says he has written extensively on LFP batteries and writes Elon Musk’s statements seem unambiguous to him.

He says, in short, LFP is by far the cheapest and most scalable (in production volume) EV battery chemistry that exists today and for the foreseeable future, being at least 20% cheaper ($/kWh) at the pack level than nickel-cobalt battery packs. If LFP is now a suitable technology fit for Tesla’s highest sales volume vehicles, it would be crazy for Tesla not to use LFP.

This is where we will apply Elon Musk’s Tweet. Elon tweeted, writing that “Important to note that iron’s cost advantage is partly offset by increased pack mass, so the fully considered cost is closer to nickel. That said, iron alleviates much of the scaling problem.”

Holland concludes, writing, “Tesla’s Roadrunner nickel batteries will incorporate all of Tesla’s battery technologies and break new ground in overall performance terms. These will enable Tesla’s cutting edge vehicles to stay well out in front in headline performance, range, charging, and longevity specifications. They will also become the most cost-competitive nickel-based cells that Tesla has access to. Tesla will keep Roadrunner in-house or in tight manufacturing partnerships (Panasonic and/or LG), and gradually expand Roadrunner production volume in Austin, Berlin, and possibly the other Gigafactories.”


This is Armen Hareyan from Torque News. Please, visit us at https://www.TorqueNews.com for daily car sector news and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/torquenewsauto for daily automotive sector tweets. And if you would like to support our channel, I would really appreciate buying us animated applause once a month by clicking on the applaud button, which is next to the Like button, if you are watching this video on a desktop. You can go to https://www.TorqueNews.com/tesla for our daily Tesla news coverage.

Dr. Maximilian Holland Clean Technica https://cleantechnica.com/2020/09/16/tesla-battery-day-has-elon-musk-already-leaked-the-battery-tech-that-will-give-scale-to-the-ev-revolution/
Elon Musk Tweet https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1306452601299501057

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