SAN RAMON (KPIX 5/AP) — Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today to tout its latest developments in battery technology and manufacturing, in a presentation dubbed “Battery Day”.
The 98-minute talk was a wonky, deep dive into the company’s five-part plan to cut in half, the cost per KWh of Tesla’s batteries, and featured looks into the cell design, factory, anode materials, cathode materials, and cell vehicle integration.
The crowd of several hundred shareholders, socially distanced and sitting inside their vehicles on the back lot of the factory at 901 Page Avenue in Fremont, honked their horns in approval, as Musk unveiled a new “tabless” battery design, that promises to deliver “5X Energy, +16% Range, and 6X Power.”
The tabless batteries, which will be produced in-house, is made by removing the tab that connects the cell and what it’s powering. By utilizing more nickel, lithium, and silicone, and eliminating cobalt (which has been tied to human rights abuses), and introducing new manufacturing processes, the company hopes to make its own batteries and reduce production delays caused by third party battery suppliers. The reduced manufacturing cost will reportedly allow Tesla to produce a $25,000 car.
But the battery breakthroughs that Musk unveiled Tuesday at a highly anticipated event didn’t impress investors. They were hoping Tesla’s technology would mark an even bigger leap forward and propel the company’s soaring stock to even greater heights.
Tesla’s shares shed more than 6% in extended trading after Musk’s presentation. That deepened a down downturn that began during Tuesday’s regular trading session as investors began to brace for a potential letdown. Musk raised those worries with a series of tweets Monday warning that Tesla’s new battery technology might not be ready for high-volume production until 2022.
Musk reiterated that timetable during Tuesday’s showcase and then added it might take up to three years before the battery technology translates into a new Tesla model selling for $25,000. That would be a dramatic markdown from Tesla’s cheapest car now, the Model 3, a sedan that starts at $35,000 but usually ends up costing buyers more than $40,000.
During the presentation, Musk also unveiled a video clip of a pilot plant Fremont, that has already produced several thousand of the tabless battery prototypes.
“It’s close to working. It’s fair to say it does work, but with not a good, not a high yield,” said Musk.
Musk says there’s a good chance the company will be able to manufacture 30 times its current battery capacity over the next decade, scaling up from 100 GWh now, to 3TWh by 2030. Musk said the company’s global vision is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
“There’s a clear path to success, but a ton of work between here and there,” said Musk.
Professor Billy Riggs, an electric car industry expert at the University of San Francisco, called today’s presentation “exciting”, but questioned current supply chain constraints of raw materials.
“Today’s been a great day for the environment,” said Riggs, “But are there the natural resources outside of the ground today to meet that as quickly as we’re talking about? And I think that’s not going to happen without recycling of batteries. And it’s also not going to happen without thinking about how we sustainably extract some of these precious metals from the ground.”
Jeffrey Robinson, with Tesla Owners East Bay, admits Musk has been known to hype new technologies, but defended the CEO’s overly eager predictions known as “Elon time”.
“It’s fair to be skeptical. He’s been late in the past. This is a roadmap. Also, these are things that are leading towards where they’re going to be,” said Robinson.
Musk also announced a new Model S Plaid, with a range of 520 miles, 0-60 in less than two seconds, and a top speed of 200 mph. The price listed on the website is $139,990 and will be available in late 2021.
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.