A New Battery Partnership?
Tesla is already a major player in the battery chemistry market of electric cars. They have some of them best battery chemistry in the industry, allowing them to achieve seemingly unbeatable ranges of almost 400 miles in some of their existing cars. With a 620 or more mile range on the upcoming Tesla Roadster, they aren’t stopping there, wanting to obtain better batteries for cheaper.
Since the early stages of Tesla as a company, Panasonic has been their only supplier of batteries, producing all the lithium-ion cells themselves and selling them to Tesla. As Tesla’s business scaled up, and with the spike in Model 3 sales, more batteries were needed, prompting the production of the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
Being the largest factory in the world in terms of total land space, Gigafactory 1 was a partnership between Tesla and Panasonic, by which Tesla leases part of the factory to Panasonic. The Japanese electronics maker then utilises the floor space to produce batteries which Tesla buys.
A New Supplier
From the start, Tesla has been looking for a long term partnership, something that would allow the cost of batteries to be driven down as Tesla reached mass scale production. However, Panasonic recently discussed increasing the prices of their cells, exactly the opposite of what Tesla was looking for.
Consequently, Tesla has gone from rapid expansion with Panasonic to slowing down and not opening new lines with them as the supplier.
Naturally, with Gigafactory Shanghai coming online within the next month or two, Tesla wasn’t prepared to use Panasonic as a supplier due to a degrading relationship. They needed a new supplier.
Back when the Shanghai factory was being conceptualised, Musk had a 45 minute meeting with Robin Zeng, the founder and Chairman of CATL. The outcome of the meeting was early talks of a battery partnership to supply the Shanghai factory for Model 3 production.
CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology) is a battery production company that is the largest supplier of lithium ion cells for electric vehicles. According to a Bloomberg report, Tesla plans to use CATL to supply them with the battery cells for the Model 3, possibly expanding to cover the Model Y in the future.
Fortunately, CATL could supply Tesla with cheaper batteries, allowing them to either increase their profit margins on the Model 3 or to decrease the cost of the car whilst keeping their margins the same.
If CATL turns out to be a good supplier, Tesla may switch to them to supply their global operations, a high opportunity for CATL. Supplying a company like Tesla could yield serious production expansion in the future.
Tesla Truck Release Date Confirmed
Following along with guidance from leaks, Tesla has confirmed that their highly anticipated cyberpunk pickup truck will be revealed on the 21st November. So far, all we have had is a few brief leaks on the design and specs of the truck from Musk himself.
It’s likely that the truck will have a range around 400-500 miles as well as the ability to supply electricity to 240v power tools, making it a highly useful vehicle for commercial use.
On top of that, the truck would have an enormous towing capacity, much more than the current towing capacity of Tesla’s range. We know that the truck will have a futuristic design, even more so than the current lineup of vehicles. In addition, the interior is likely to be decked out with technology too, not to mention autopilot as standard.
Musk Confirms Larger Battery for Plaid
We already know that Plaid will be the next step in Tesla’s performance line of vehicles, featuring three motors and a new powertrain. With Musk targeting the fastest electric vehicle around the Nurburgring, a non-production VW at around 6 minutes, Tesla is really going to need to pull something out the bag.
Thankfully, the Plaid version of the Model S already looks like serious business, beating the Porsche Taycan at its own game, and that’s in a family saloon car. However, all that performance will need some more juice to power it, hence the larger battery size.
The Model S P100d already has one of the largest battery pack sizes in its industry and Tesla wants to push this further. The Plaid Model S and Tesla roadster are confirmed by Musk to have battery packs larger than 100 kWh, perhaps 120 kWh or 140 kWh.
If Tesla plans on breaking 6 minutes round the Nurburgring with the Plaid Model S, the lighter and more aerodynamic Roadster could set an incredible time.
Tesla Updating Internal OS
Unlike most significant companies which use commercial operating systems complete with third party applications, Tesla decided to run their company differently. With software engineers in plentiful supply, Tesla decided to run all of the companies operations on their own software.
The software development is named ‘Warp’ by Tesla internally and its development was led by Jay Vijayan, Tesla’s chief information officer up till 2016 when he left the company. The aim of the system was to accompany Musk’s vision of a fully vertically integrated system.
One advantage of doing this is that, if the software engineers do their job correctly, it should be very difficult to hack or breach. This is because it is closed and only used by a very small number of users.
However, as the company becomes more stable with vehicle production, it is focusing on updating that OS which is relies on so heavily for its day to day operations. The update will reportedly focus on customers, specifically their account security.
Tesla is enabling two factor authentication, prompting users accounts to be secured by prompting them to enter a code upon logging in with their usual credentials. This code is usually generated by an app on a phone, e.g. Google Authenticator. Despite that, I would say that Tesla is more likely to use their own app as an authentication code generator.
According to Musk, two factor authentication will come after Tesla has performed some ‘foundation upgrades’ to their internal OS. Such upgrades are priorities as many criticise Warp as outdated in some areas, although excellent for vertical integration.
Now Tesla is seemingly more stable, it can focus on things like customer service and account security, rather than putting 100% of their resources into production. This make the Tesla experience more well rounded and better in all areas.
Presumably, Musk wants to make the OS into something that is completely future proofed for enormous expansion, something which can easily be used and installed around the globe on computers involved in Tesla’s operations. As Musk says, car companies don’t do software very well.