Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors, mentioned in a podcast yesterday that he was disappointed with the media coverage of the Tesla Battery Day, which was an event held for the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in California last Tuesday. Many people expected some largely tangible announcements from the EV manufacturer, but the general reactions post the event were mixed. While lots of people liked the introduction of the Model S Plaid and the upcoming $25,000 Tesla car, there was a general notion that a ‘battery’ day should have had more emphasis on future battery technology.
Elon Musk Is Not Happy With Media Coverage For Battery Day
Tesla did announce that they will be using a new cell in future battery packs, which has been named as the 4680 (46 mm diameter and 80 mm length). This new cell is expected to have a tabless design and will make manufacturing easier. Musk mentioned during the presentation that while manufacturing a cell with tabs, the automated process needs to be halted to insert the tabs in place. Having eliminated the use of tabs completely, the process will now become much faster. The result of this is getting 5 times the energy and 6 times the power from the cell, and helping the vehicle range increase by almost 16%.
Despite a plan in place to use three different configurations for the cathode manufacturing of the 4680 cells, the general public was not exactly satisfied with the overall battery presentations. There were rumors that the company will unveil a million-mile battery, after Elon Musk, in the run-up to the event, had mentioned that “something else” would be revealed. With the battery research team led by Jeff Dahn having made a lot of progress in the last few years, the assumptions of the million-mile battery weren’t uncalled for. But it turned out that the ‘something else’ was the launch of the Model S Plaid itself. Because of this, many people ended up being disappointed.
It wasn’t just the general public that was unsatisfied with the event. Wall Street had expected some news from Tesla with regard to the reduction in EV prices. Currently, Tesla battery packs cost roughly $156 per kWh, which is the primary reason why electric vehicles are so expensive. For these cars to compete with petrol and diesel vehicles, that price needs to come down to $100 per kWh. Tesla did mention that the new 4680 cell is expected to cut down on battery prices, with measures being taken, such as using nickel instead of cobalt in the cathode for cheaper mining and easier recycling and using silicon instead of graphite in the anode for its availability. Having started in-house manufacturing of these cells, Tesla hopes to reduce the battery pack cost by almost 56% in the coming years. Currently, these changes are set to bring the cost down to approximately $127 per kWh, according to Reuters. By reducing the amount of money spent on battery production, Tesla not only will reduce the prices of their current cars, but also launch a new $25,000 vehicle. This car will be practically affordable for the common public, and that is Tesla’s next major goal, according to Musk. However, the fact that this model will be launched in 2024 at the earliest, means that owning a Tesla will still be a luxury till then.
Wall Street did not take this news very well, as the market dropped following the conclusion of the Battery Day, with the net worth of Tesla reducing by as much as $70 billion.
Musk said that he was frustrated by the way the Battery Day announcements were taken by Wall Street. He said that many people do not understand the efforts that go behind manufacturing a product on a large-scale. People think that getting a working prototype is all that matters, and once that is done, the production is just trivial copying. Musk mentioned that prototyping is simply 1% of the problem, and actual volume production is almost 1000 times more difficult. This once again points in the direction of Musk’s vision of making Tesla a leading manufacturing company. Tesla factories should be seen as “an alien dreadnought”, according to him.
Whether this rant was aimed towards the general public, or the shareholders, or Wall Street, in general, is unknown. The live broadcast of the entire event got close to 2.7 million views on YouTube, and that seems crazy. Almost 2.7 million people spent an hour or so listening to Musk and his senior vice president Andrew Baglino talk about battery manufacturing and sustainability – things that the common public doesn’t really tune in to on a Tuesday. This wasn’t even the unveiling of a new car or product, it was just the component of a car. Quite frankly, that is quite a huge number of people taking interest in what Tesla is currently doing, and Musk should focus on that bit of good news.