Battery Day – Tesla

Tabless battery by Tesla
Image courtesy of Battery Day – Tesla

Battery Day – Tesla, if anyone had any doubt that Tesla is going to be the leader heading into the future of the electric car and power management this week solidified their position.

It is truly incredible the innovation that Tesla continues to deliver. The team at Tesla reviews a part of the market that has been devoid of innovation, they turn it on its head with first principal thinking. 

Battery day – Tesla was presented online and a number of lucky investors and followers of Tesla were in attendance and the unique way they socially distanced was very cool.

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Image courtesy of Battery Day – Tesla

First Principles

Elon has spoken a number of times regarding the first principle thinking to reframe a question regarding a current problem.

“The first principle” was conceived by Aristotle to rethink an already existing process and find another way to achieve a better outcome.

First principle thinking guided Tesla to reimagine a better battery for the future of the company.

They broke down the detail into 5 complete sections

  • Cell Design 
  • Cell factory 
  • Anode Materials
  • Cathode Materials
  • Cell Vehicle Integration
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Cell Design

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Tesla is turning the cell design on its head. They thought long and hard about the fundamentals of what constitutes the cell. The team at Tesla looked at the main features of current cells looking for opportunities to increase energy storage and output.

The introduction of the tabless 4680 cell made of silicon whilst limiting the use of cobalt has led them to achieve an innovative approach. With these changes it can increase the cells range by 16%. This range extension is truly incredible and critical to the uptake of EV’s as we move into the next couple of years.

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Cell Factory

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One of the most surprising elements regarding the cell announcement pertains to the fact that a pilot factory already exists. The fact that cells are already being produced would suggest that this is not just a theory but a revolution and real.

Taking inspiration from printing and bottling factories of yesteryear where the production line does not slow down during the whole process, Tesla has implemented a similar process that allows the cells production to increase accordingly.

Within the production of the cells there are 4 main steps

  • Electrode
  • Winding
  • Assembly
  • Formation
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Major efficiencies can be found within the process of manufacturing battery cells as opposed to the traditional processes.

The use of a “High-Speed Continuous” motion allows for a smaller footprint within factories producing more cells per hour allowing an increase in efficiencies with manufacturing and could produce a 7x improvement with possiblility 10x improvement over time.

Tesla last year purchased Maxwell which had a process for converting dry powder materials and applying that as a film onto the separator in the jelly roll of the battery. Elon explained that since this purchase, they have iterated on the process 4 times and believe that they will achieve greater efficiency by about the sixth iteration. This advancement removes the need for a wet process and thus reduces the size of the factory required exponentially.

These improvements are revolutionary to the production of cells. Once again first principles has delivered a new perspective.

Most companies rely on old solutions where as Tesla as confirmed by Elon will continue to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible.

Currently Tesla refers to the factories as Gigafactories. As they move forward and transition to the new cell form factor the factories will be referred to Terafactories.

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Anode Materials 

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Silicon is considered a fundamental element used in most batteries. Once again Tesla has had to go back to fundamentals and find a way to improve the process of creating better density and usage of the batteries. 

When a battery is charged and discharged the movement of lithium across the membrane causes it to crack and become gooey. Overtime this causes the cell to lose the ability to manage the state of charge thus rendering the cell less effective.

Many have tried to rectify this by addressing the symptoms not the cause. The introduction of different binders and support materials have been used to lessen the impact of the heat generated during charging and discharging. This has been met with varying results.

Tesla is attempting to look at the fundamentals of what makes up the anode of the battery and see if they can eliminate cobalt whilst using Silicon in a different way. Raw silicon has been proposed as a possible solution to help with the expansion issue when charged and discharged.

  • Raw material silicon,
  • stabilize surface through elastic, non-conducting polymer coasting,
  • robust network – highly elastic binder and electrode design.

By implementing the above changes to the cell It has been shown to provide a 20% increase in range for vehicles.

A 20% increase in cell range is groundbreaking when dealing with electric vehicles. Distance is king in many cases and this could help to achieve this greater range for the same price. Or alternatively it could mean less cells with same range reducing costs.

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Cathode materials

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A cathode provides structure to the management of lithium ions within the battery cell. Tesla has been experimenting with different cathode types that would allow cells to be more environmentally friendly and increase recyclability.

In the course of their investigations they believe a diverse range of materials will be utilised for different purposes. Tesla will implement different material across their product line to address cost, density and output.

Iron – Low level use 

Nickel Manganese – medium level use 

High Nickel – used for Long range – Cyber truck and semi

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The use of nickel as a main component gives the best dollar per kwh and wh/kg. This combined with removing the cobalt has a number of positive effects

  • Reduces complexity of the materials 
  • Continues to address the human rights issues with mining 
  • Has a good structure to hold the lithium 
  • Reduction in costs of $/kwh

Again the returned to first principles regarding the manufacturing of the cathode. This lead to an improvement in battery production and thus a cumulative effect upon the percentile shift of costs in the downward trend.

Further to this, lithium is a highly abundant material and is available within many and varied locations. It seems that the collection and processing of the material is able to be achieved within in the USA.

Mining lithium is important way forward for cell production and Tesla has found a way to extract it from clay with the use of Nacl (Salt). The outcome of this leads to highly recyclable cells and materials, that can be easily reconstructed into new cells. This leads to some impressive cost savings.

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Cell vehicle production 

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Elon announced a change to the fundamental design of the Tesla vehicles.

He was inspired by the airline industries innovation when they created a fuel tank as part of the wing which improved capacity and reduced weight. By changing the way the vehicles are constructed to achieve a similar concept Tesla’s vehicles have also had similar outcomes.

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This one design change is said to lead to;

  • 10 % in weight reduction
  • 14% range increase opportunity 
  • 370 fewer parts

Cumulative effect 

Tesla has shown that it can innovate in areas that most car companies take for granted and follow a standard view of the processes. Tesla chooses to look at the fundamentals and innovate using the first principles thinking regarding anything from the car to the power train to the battery cells and beyond.

The above innovations with cell production, cell development, anode, cathode and vehicle design allow for changes and efficiencies in their own right, but the cumulative effect it has upon the overall price and production helps to drive prices down , safety up and more people in cars everywhere.

56 % reduction in $/KWH. 

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This is a monumental step in regard to Tesla’s value as a company and value of the individual vehicles. The impact it will have on the tesla solar and battery storage costs moving into the future will be profound.

 Elon highlighted that the realization of this technology will not occur for 1-3 years but the ability to own a tesla in the coming years with a price that is reasonable is extremely exciting. 

Benefits

  • 54% Range increase
  • 56% S/KWH reduction
  • 69% Investment per GWH reduction. 
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Image courtesy of Battery Day – Tesla

What does this mean for Australia?

I have watched a number of Tesla presentations over the years and this presentation was the most exciting for a number of reasons.

In Australia the prices of tesla vehicle is quite significant for the average person. With a starting price of $74000 a lot of people find this price out of reach.

If Tesla was able to maximise on the 56% reduction in dollars per KWH then the possibility exists that in the future Tesla’s could be priced around $40000 – $ 50000. If this was to transpire then more Australians would be in a position to consider their next car to be electric.

If the new 4680 battery cell is adapted to the home power storage solutions it could assist Australians to increase their ability to maximise their solar panel efficiencies whilst also reducing the cost of electric and charging electric vehicle.

If this is the future in 1-3 years, then I am on board and I would encourage all Australians to investigate electric products.

One more thing….

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It would not be a Tesla event if there wasn’t something unexpected. Tesla announced a possibility of a new, smaller sedan with a price range of around $25000 USD.

The Plaid Model S

The Plaid Model S, which has been seen on the Nürburgring, with a tri motor specifications and a 0-60 mph time of 2.1 seconds is now available to be purchased online. this impressive vehicle has a starting price in Australia of $189000.

Last word

Battery Day – Tesla has shown what it is capable of and sets a high standard for all to follow. Tesla’s mission will improve the environment and accelerate the transition to a sustainable future. The information provided by Tesla has great potential to realise the possibilities.

Tesla’s philosophy of using first principles to reimagine what battery technologies can be will have positive impacts on the environment for years to come. It’s ability to continually innovate and move their mission forward is inspiring.

Dave 

David McCann
David McCann

EV-HQ founder

DAVE’S Blog posts

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Out of Balance!

aerial view of road in the middle of trees
Photo by Deva Darshan on Pexels.com

Out of Balance! Two weeks ago I had one of those experiences that I thought would never come. My belief is that everyone has a good understanding of electric vehicle. I believe that everyone has a good foundational knowledge of what an electric car is and can do. Turns out I live in a bubble.

I realized two weeks ago that this type of thinking is a misconception and that we need to do more. 

Let me explain. 

My friend

I have a friend who is currently doing it hard as a business owner. He had to shut up shop while quarantine was occurring. This had an impact, now that he is open again, he is trying to make up for lost time. 

I have not had as much trouble with this area as I have worked across all quarantine. So, when it came to having an optometrist look at my sight, my friend jumped straight to mind. 

He and his wife both have worked tirelessly to build this business and their reputation to make their Optometrist business successful.

We visited the store and had our eyes checked and purchased a number of glasses. We had not seen each other for a while so afterwards we went back to their place to catch up.

Electric benefits

During the conversation we ventured onto the subject of cars. They were thinking about buying a new car to replace their 12-year-old car. It was at this point I mentioned electric vehicles. 

Much to my surprise they really had little knowledge of what electric cars could do and what their features were.

So, I tapped into my knowledge and started to answer questions and drive discussion. It was not only gratifying to hear myself speak with confidence about the cars, but also see my friend grow increasingly interested in the benefits of these cars.  

We discussed the ins and outs of Tesla’s talking about the savings across the spectrum from petrol to solar to battery storage to upfront cost versus ongoing costs. 

When I mentioned that there is limited maintenance that needed to occur for the cars, they were both surprised. We then spent that next 20 minutes convincing him that electric cars have a lot fewer moving parts and they don’t require the same maintenance that an ICE car requires. 

I tried to put forward a balanced view, both the good and the bad. Advising them that if they truly wanted to understand how an electric car feels to drive then to test drive a Tesla or any other electric vehicle, they find appealing.  

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Out of balance 

It was during this conversation that I realized that my knowledge was greater than I had previously thought but I did not truly appreciate the lack of information in the marketplace. This lack of clarity is part of the reason the electric car companies have had little chance of getting a foothold. 

Social Media

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Social media is an important avenue to pass on information to people. However, it anything that is not front, and center seems to be lost in the noise.  The general public don’t seem to find it as they don’t know what they are looking for. 

Recently I mentioned a report put out by the Electric Vehicle Council.  The report advised that 45% of people would consider an electric vehicle as their next car. 

This number may very well be true, but I also wonder how many of that 45% actually understand what the differences are with an electric car from an ICE vehicle.  

graphs of electric car information.
Information courtesy of “State of Electric Vehicles” August 2019- Electric Council Australia

I(nserrt image of percentages)

Furthermore, I wonder how we capture the remaining 55% of people’s attention to have a better understanding of the Electric vehicle market. 

Misinformation

I received a text message from my friend a couple of days later.  He told me that he had been considering the discussion about electric vehicles and had spoken to someone who said that Tesla’s need to have software updates and that Tesla charges fees to upgrade. 

I was surprised that anyone would sprout that kind of nonsense, so I sent my friend the links to the software update details that Tesla puts on its website. I also sent him the link to Andy Slye  that also outlines how the software works. 

This just reinforced the need to find new ways to get the message out that electric has greater benefits than most people think and that there is so much misinformation the waters are getting murky. 

Call to Arms

I call upon all my followers and friends, my fellow bloggers and Youtubers to combine forces, to create new and fresh ideas on how to get the right information in front of as many as you can. 

The opportunity is now! The information is out of balance! We have a responsibility as passionate aficionados of the information to share and spread it near and far and help to reduce the confusion and misunderstanding. 

My friend has not made any decisions as to whether he can afford to go electric. I hope I have helped to change the mind of one or two more people to the benefits of the electric vehicle. 

By sharing my knowledge with just one person who becomes interested I have helped to spread the information and hope it keeps going. I will continue to share my passion for the cars and hope that my turn to own a Tesla won’t be far away. 

Dave 

David McCann
David McCann

EV-HQ founder

DAVE’S Blog posts

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Are Australian Tesla’s about to get cheaper?

white tesla

Are Australian Tesla’s about to get cheaper? An encouraging report is suggesting that Australian deliveries for Model 3 and Model Y from Tesla, may be delivered from Giga Shanghai towards the end of 2020 beginning of 2021. 

It has been a major point of contention, that the prices in Australia are too high for the average person. 

The idea of Tesla’s being manufactured and delivered from Giga-shanghai is not a new idea but one that many have requested for a while, my self included.

Australian Prices

If the Model 3 and Y are to be sold as a family car, or as the car for the masses, then the price needs to be more affordable, around the $30,000 – $40,000 dollars mark.

This price would give price parity with the average ICE vehicle and allow for natural competition. Currently in Australia costs of Tesla’s are almost double these amounts.

Now of course, part of these cost are taxes both Luxury Car Tax (LCT) and Import tax and every other person who is involved with the delivery tax. 

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Giga-Shanghai

GIGA Shanghai
Featured Image Credit: WuWa Vision/YouTube

There is a possible change for the delivery of Tesla’s from Giga-Shanghai to the Southern hemisphere, inclusive of Australia, this was reported by Bloomberg and shared by Sawyer Merritt on twitter.

This change in location of manufacturing and delivery increases the chance of a possible price change. That would make the Model 3 and hopefully Model Y see price drops and become more affordable and achievable by the average person in Australia. This would continue to help to support the Tesla Mission. 

The news that it may actually be occurring is exciting for Australians looking to make their next purchase an electric car. 

The Electric Vehicle Council released a report in August 2019 called the State of Electric Vehicles. This report highlights some of the details relating to the possibility that 53% of people either already own or are thinking about purchasing an electric car as their next vehicle.

Model Y ordering

Model Y not an order page
Courtesy of Tesla.com

In Australia the Model Y is yet to be able to be ordered. This is not in line with the Model 3, which was available to be reserved from almost day one of the announcement. 

This delay with ordering could be aligned with the decision to ship cars from Giga Shanghai. Giga Shanghai has a number of buildings being constructed currently which have been rumored to be for the Model Y.

These would need to be completed for deliveries of model Y to Australia to occur.

Based on reports the building are close to being finalised which would in turn align with the timeline suggested for Giga Shanghai deliveries to Australia. 

Prices in Australia

Are Australian Tesla’s about to get cheaper? EV-HQ in February of this year commented on the prices of Tesla’s in Australia on Twitter and Elon Musk responded with this tweet.

This response was an indication that he also believed that prices for Tesla’s are too high, which he reinforced at the recent shareholders meeting held in July 2020, Tesla, Inc. Q2 2020 Financial Results and Q&A Webcast.

Tesla’s mission of transitioning the world to sustainable energy and transport must at its core be able to be flexible in the execution. The possible change to delivering and manufacturing vehicles for the Southern hemisphere and right-hand drive (RHD) countries is another step towards this achievement. 

Opportunities for Fremont

Fremont factory
Image courtesy of CleanTechnica.com

The knock-on effect of a change like this opens the way for reduced reliance on delivering all models of the Tesla fleet globally from Fremont and disperses the deliveries across the network of factories. Thus, building redundancy and stability in manufacturing and deliveries.

It also allows Fremont to start planning for the manufacturing of the Roadster which Elon has mentioned would come out of Fremont factory. 

Are Australian Tesla’s about to get cheaper? It is encouraging to see that possible changes may be coming to the way Tesla is progressing their vision and the positive impact it can have on the average person is a win for the individual, and also for the world as we try to fix the issues that we have caused over the last century. 

Dave 

David McCann
David McCann

EV-HQ founder

DAVE’S Blog posts

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Eco system lock in

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Image by motionstock from Pixabay 

Eco system lock in, Tesla has grown from a small startup car company to a global leader in EV technology.

Are Tesla heading down a road that is predicated on the fact that people need to be in the ecosystem to get the benefits of the companies’ technologies?

Since apple’s recent concern regarding the app store I have been wondering if this is something that Tesla needs to manage as well. 

Apple

Apple products
Photo by Serpstat on Pexels.com

Apple has in recent history been criticized for not being more transparent and open. They pride themselves on privacy, which is good business sense, however it does come with some draw backs. 

When you as the customer buy apple products you are open to the opportunities apple provides. Firstly, you have the ability to create an account, once you have the account the following becomes available to you;

  • Access to the app store 
  • Apple Music
  • Find my family
  • Apple Maps
  • Apple TV, Apple TV+
  • iTunes Store
  • Etc. 

These are mostly software application portals. These days you can get a credit card (USA Only) which locks you into their banking, Apple pay system, where they offer incentives for spending more. 

Apple is working to be part of your health management with the apple watch, health app, integration with Medical Record systems like Cerner and aligning with the Mayo Clinic to develop research projects that utilize the customers of the apple products. 

This innovation has a lot of positives that benefit many people and make their lives better. It also helps to keep people locked into their ecosystem.

Let’s Imagine for a second

Let’s Imagine that you have been using and integrating with apple products for 10 years and a new company with the newest and greatest product comes along and you want to change! 

It is at this point that Eco system lock in becomes real. 

Trying to transition all your devices and your information from the last 10 years could prove to be a challenge, not to mention costly.

So why does Tesla need to be cautious?

Tesla is starting to build a singular experience for the amazing technological cars they design and build.

These cars require an account, and they have an inbuilt ecosystem within the vehicles. This is complimented by the phone application that allows you access to your car and account. 

Tesla offers an eco-system that is not beholden to just cars either. Their products include solar panels, solar roof’s and Tesla batteries.

Their mission is to transition the world to sustainable energy and in doing so it would be reasonable to consider that this would include realization of new and innovative products. 

As any new product is introduced it is another way to get locked into the Tesla Ecosystem.

Tesla has the opportunity to avoid ecosystem lock in and look at the ability for the products to integrate with other systems long term. To bring others along for the journey to a sustainable nonpolluting energy production future. 

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This is the start of an ecosystem. 

Tesla Charger
Image by ElasticComputeFarm from Pixabay

Elon Musk is a very smart guy and he has helped to bring some of the brightest minds in the world to Tesla to develop the amazing products we see today. These people have started Tesla down the road of creating an Eco system that is exciting and futuristic. 

One of the most interesting parts that highlights the different thinking that Tesla is bringing in the early days that even apple did in the early days of its resurrection.

They are offering the ability for other car companies which may not have the technical know-how of electric cars to utilize their drive chain and batteries.

This is encouraging to see. I would hope that into the future the software systems may also be integrated.

It shows the thinking that is occurring in Tesla that just may indicate that they hopefully are trying to avoid the issues related with Ecosystem lock in. 

Tesla is aspirational and is looking to grow and develop a fandom and customer base that keeps coming back for more.

The Tesla community are passionate, sometimes to a fault. They are driven to see the world and the Tesla Mission realized. 

This group of passionate people want nothing more than to enjoy their cars, spread the fun and passion they have to the rest of the world and hope that Tesla comes out on top. They profess that once you go electric you will never go back. 

This is extremely true for Tesla because they are so far ahead in technology and performance. 

Tesla’s ecosystem is growing, and the passionate fans are growing with them. The early adopters have been the vocal few for many years and have continued to share their passions with their family and friends and the rest of the world.

Compare

I am an apple fan boy and have been for many years. In my collection of products i own iPhone, iPad, apple TV’s etc. I am a tragic ecosystem lock in having influenced friends and family to buy.

This has been not just because I love their products but also because their operating system just works and is easy to navigate. 

Tesla aligns with similar features, they have products of which I do not own any yet, but when I do, I will want to buy more and share that with family and friends. 

Both companies have a number of similarities;

  • Create an account 
  • App helps to manage that account
  • Applications can be access through the products
  • Software updates bring new functionality
  • New products help to improve your lives

Customers!

At the heart of any company wishing to sell their products Customers are the life blood. Customers are the ones that will make or break you as they will do their talking with their money and their feet. 

In the case of Tesla, the customers are their greatest asset. They do a large amount of promotion across social media and they expect a lot from the product. 

They are passionate and loud, but they do not go into buying a Tesla blindly, they do their research they understand the products and the company well before purchasing. 

CEO influence

Elon Musk is the most vocal CEO of any car company across the globe and with that it allows a unique opportunity for people to engage and influence how the world of Tesla moves forward. 

This unique relationship helps to allow the community voice to guide the future of the car company.

This unique relationship can help to avoid the ecosystem lock in with the customer helping to show the way and have a voice at the table. 

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But ecosystem lock in Is real. 

Eco system lock in is real and once a customer purchases all Tesla Products one could argue that they are locked-in to Tesla’s Ecosystem.  

One of the main reasons that the customer would consider Tesla first if already part of the Ecosystem is the familiarity of the products. 

It is a person’s ability to realize it is easier to connect to an already established eco system than it is to buy new cars, solar panels and batteries. Tesla sells large purchases, it is hard to change your solar panels, car or house battery year to year.  

Tesla stands out, and looks to the future

There is, some positive things to look towards that indicate that Tesla is trying not to have a walled garden completely. Recently, Elon Musk said on twitter that they are open to allowing other car companies to use their components from Tesla for their cars, drive train and batteries. In the future it may even be software.

This glimmer of positivity to open the Tesla ecosystem to others is important and should be pursued.  It is a positive step towards improving the ability for other companies and products to interface and avoid the eco system lock-in that other companies have become accustomed to. 

Tesla has a mission that is greater than the parts of Tesla itself and that shows the true human factor behind why they want to change the world for the better. 

If there is to be an ecosystem lock-in then lock in to the ecosystem we live in and help the environment we live in.

Ecosystem
Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

People at the end of the day have a choice, they have a chance to decide for themselves. 

Eco system lock in is something that could happen to Tesla and the customers. The question is will it? That is yet to be decided. 

I hope that the future they wish to achieve, based upon their mission, is the one that we all focus on and use of the technology they produce to help achieve this goal is open for everyone to enjoy. 

I would think that the ecosystem supports the goal not the other way around.