Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Tesla to achieve leading $100/kWh battery cell cost this year, says investor (electrek.co)
83 points by prostoalex 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 122 comments

Just FYI, electrek is consider very bullish on Tesla. A lot of their articles lean. Just like a lot of the short sellers sites lean the other way.

They are definitely biased towards people that are interested in companies like Tesla.

However stuff like this is kind of factual ("an investor reported X ... we thinks it means Y") and it comes with some fair caveats. I come across their articles regularly and I haven't really seen them misrepresenting facts.

In this case, they add the following to the stuff they cite from the investor: "Electrek’s Take: I would take this with a grain of salt since those tours are controlled by Tesla’s investor relations department and there are obviously made to impress, but it’s nonetheless some interesting color on Tesla’s battery operations.". So credible source but they take their opinion with a grain of salt.

So yes, it's definitely a pro Tesla article and the 100$/KwH metric is an interesting one regardless. Definitely looks like they are doing better than their competition (which is not really news) and they seem to be out producing everybody else at this point at lower cost with more cost reductions likely due to economies of scale and improvements such as discussed in the article.

Also interesting is Elektrek's take on the infamous 35K variant being more likely to ship towards the end of the announced window. We'll see. Cost reductions definitely make this more feasible. But I can't blame Tesla for wanting to cash in on the apparently greater demand than supply for the more profitable high end models. I imagine they are not in a hurry to drop prices given the lack of competition and given the pressure on them to show positive results on their balance.

I agree, but just don't wander into the comments. The community is very on sided, which is to be expected I suppose.

I recommend following the $TSLAQ Twitter to get a different perspective on Tesla. I've started following @TeslaCharts this year and then added some other Tesla bear accounts.

Makes you see news like this differently. Musk probably gave them a factory tour and asked them to spew some BS to the ether to help the stock.

I own a few shares of Tesla, because I know there is hype and because I want a world where ICE autos is an option and not a foregone conclusion.

I see this (and to an extent, my interest in Tesla) as a “rising tide lifts all boats” sort of situation. Anyone differentiating their automobiles by making batteries at a noteworthy price point pushes everybody else to at least try to match. The gauntlet is thrown down.

I really care if SpaceX succeeds. I only care that Tesla succeeds enough to be a model worth improving upon. If they go down as a cautionary tale against making electric cars that would be bad for everybody.

Agreed, Musk was initially just trying to create/enlarge a market to bring forward the switch to pure electric cars.

On the flip side about electrek though, they seem to have the articles first about any Tesla info.

I follow Tesla closely as a current owner, and most news I hear about software changes, future Tesla stuff, etc comes out first from electrek.

So thanks to the guy who runs it and stays on top of it!

Agreed, deeply grateful for Fred's diligent reporting on these topics. Usually has the scoop first and is good about highlighting negative aspects as well without the institutional fire and brimstone everyone else comes with.

They state that in the article:

>I would take this with a grain of salt since those tours are controlled by Tesla’s investor relations department and there are obviously made to impress, but it’s nonetheless some interesting color on Tesla’s battery operations.

Tesla(and spacex) have a massive marketing presence but have failed to deliver on their promises over and over.

I stopped trusting their PR team, they must prove themselves instead of talking now. They did this to themselves.

That word “failed”, I’m not sure it means what you think it means.

They may have been delayed from overly ambitious targets, but Tesla is shipping three different models of all electric cars, residential and large-scale energy storage, solar roofs (barely), and is building out the single biggest factory in the world.

Now we’re hearing that Tesla is hitting $100/kWh for their battery cells. That’s a milestone that as recently as 2017 the DOE expected to be hit in 2020, and back when Tesla launched in 2003 was a compete and utter fairy tale.

$100/kWh has for years been predicted to be the tipping point where long-range electric goes mainstream. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is literally Tesla delivering on its core mission statement.

SpaceX literally owns the orbital launch market and is a private enterprise trying to get humans to another fucking planet.

How irrational can Elon-haters possibly get?

>Just FYI, electrek is consider very bullish on Tesla.

It's worse than that. The "analyst" is from Worm Capital. Every heard of them? Probably not. But their fund is 60% Tesla.

Why is it that "shorts" are criticized for talking their book and spreading FUD, but the "longs" are not criticized for all the stock pumping? Why are Worm Capital and the YouTube guy getting factory tours?

There's always this feeling that shorts are predatory and making money off other people's demise. Kinda like betting the "Don't Pass" line in craps. Stocks go up, everyone wins right? Oh no not those pesky shorts trying to drive the price down. But the misinformation and hype from the long side is actually worse in general, and shorts aren't to blame for misplaced greed and hype.

If I am long on a stock I applaud the shorts. After all, if they are wrong, they have to buy back and drive up my price more. Also when a company is over-hyped or worse and outright fraud, short sellers can bring attention to this and slow the impending bust that is going to happen. I personally had shorted a lot of stocks in the past and they are almost all bankrupt now taking with them the sheer speculators that over extended themselves.

> If I am long on a stock I applaud the shorts. After all, if they are wrong, they have to buy back and drive up my price more.

You're right but I think a lot of hobby investors don't really get 'long on stock' - once they buy stock in a company they feel personally invested and want the price to go up, and damn the naysayers.

The only time this might not apply is when a company is taking a huge risk (like Tesla with the push for the Model 3) and there's a real chance that grassroots FUD could break a company.

...who also happened to have just visited for an on-site tour that provided them with a unique perspective, conceivably? Spin works both ways here it seems what's with the apoplexy over an editor citing the fund's blog

> Why are Worm Capital and the YouTube guy getting factory tours?

Because they're helping the bottom line? That's Tesla's job. To help itself.

Are you proposing they give tours to short sellers?

that might actually be useful

I wonder about that. For the pro-company camp they could argue they are trying to bump sales not stock price which seems reasonable.

However, I would think all the news coverage short sellers are drumming up is illegal stock market manipulation. But, either that's not the case in practice, or the SEC just ignores them.

You live in a parallel universe. Short sellers peddling fake news are largely mythical. Virtually every SEC enforcement action has been against pump-and-dump scams dealing in false positive analysis. The short side is just realistic and they don’t spread rumors, because it’s better for them when the bad news is a surprise to other investors. SEC enforcement against short sellers for public statements are incredibly rare.

> The short side is just realistic and they don’t spread rumors, because it’s better for them when the bad news is a surprise to other investors.

I'm no stock market expert but surely that's only true if the short sellers are right and the stock does lose a lot of value? Whereas if the stock keeps going up the short seller has motive to try and crash the stock price?

Seriously ? You do realize that legal framework for a public company's officers as it relates to the company they are managing and a random dude on the street who holds a short position is very different?

I'm not talking about company officers or other insiders. I'm talking about stock promotion scams, which are the great majority of SEC enforcement actions. Consider for example the SEC action taken against biotech penny stock promoters last Friday.

"The pump-and-dump scheme, allegedly orchestrated by a Frost associate named Barry Honig, took place between 2013 and 2018. According to the SEC, Honig coordinated an effort to buy up shares at a discount, pay a third party to write laudatory articles on Wall Street forums, and then sell those shares for a profit."

I am not suggesting the news is fake on either side. The most effective spin is accurate with the distortion being the amount of coverage it gets.

We probably need some of that to balance the torrent of anti Tesla article

Thus reinforcing Tesla's dominance. Until other manufacturers can match Tesla's price/range combination, Tesla will continue to dominate the market.

We can perhaps say that when they are actually making batteries at $100/kWh. We could have said they were going to dominate in EV production in 2016 when they said they were going to manufacture 200k cars in the second half of 2017, and 500k cars by this year. So analysis and comparison of projections from a company that has a history of wildly underdelivering isn't sound.

In absolute terms, they're delivering 8x more full electrics than the Bolt, the next leading full electric, and still more than the 2 leading plugin hybrids. The market will never be happy with winning, it has to be winning by the desired margin.


Isn't Tesla still losing money on each produced car? If they are, they are just increasing their losses with higher production volume. At least the base Model 3 isn't profitable, which is why it isn't being sold at the moment.

Maybe, but if you want to change the world, is stock price the only metric?

How profitable is Twitter?

I wonder whether Tesla will go into the market supplying batteries to other manufacturers? Such a price point would give them a huge advantage in that market.

Given their plans to expand their auto manufacturing with new factories in the EU and China, and their growing ambitions to create stationary energy storage for renewable generation, I'd say they won't be selling their automotive batteries anytime soon. I think it more likely they sell their electric power train, which they have done in the past.

Doesn’t Panasonic make their batteries? To what extent can Panasonic decide to sell the batteries without dealing with Tesla?

> Panasonic make their batteries

No, they are a partner and have put up a significant fraction of the capital for the plant though.

Right, but as I was under the impression that the actual 18650 Cells are made by Panasonic in Japan.

My understanding is that the article is referring to the new 2170 Cells (used in Model 3) which are produced at the Panasonic/Tesla partner Gigafactory in Nevada.

Even for the cells produced in Japan if they are using IP owned by Tesla in their construction or chemistry they could still have a say in who Panasonic sells them to.

Weren't they planning to use their gigafactories to build batteries themselves as well ? I remember reading that a full gigafactory would process the same amount of silicium as the total current world production (at the time).

As I understand it that was (is?) the plan, to build the cars and batteries under the same roof. I think Tesla and Panasonic were talking about building a similar factory in China too, although I don’t know the status of that today.

I thought that was half the point of all the early gigafactory PR? He anticipated having many more of them than his companies needed.

They seem to start diversifying the distribution channels with residential and utility-scale battery installs.

>Until other manufacturers can match Tesla's price/range combination

I guess you're right, because the competitors are just starting to roll out now...

Ford is deprecating sedan manufacturing and only building trucks. Chrysler Fiat appears to be parting itself out. Volkswagen? I wouldn't buy a vehicle from them ever after their emissions scandal. Mercedes and BMW? Having owned both, I know what their out of warranty service costs are. GM has a shot based on their history of the Volt and the Bolt. Toyota? They were relying on Tesla for their EV drivetrains most recently, and still haven't given up the hydrogen boondoggle. This is before we even start discussing how legacy auto manufacturers are going to scale EV production up without their own battery cell/pack manufacturing (relying on OEMs instead).

I don't see any non-Chinese automaker besides Tesla and possibly GM taking EVs seriously.

Just some examples of traditional car makers: Jaguar, VW (as much as it hurts me personally to admit that), BMW, GM.

The big problem for Tesla now is to compete with the incumbents on their turf, mass producing cars. That EV drive trains makes cars actually less compley isn't helping neither. And the incumbents are really good at that. Tesla had an incredible window of opportunity to turn the automotive industry upside down. Now the window narrowed down to a race between Tesla getting production straight and the traditional car makers developing an electrical car. Ip to very recently I would still have been with Tesla. Now, not so much. Musk apparently having some issues, production being a constant headache. And Tesla even tried to built their own seats. Not everything other manufacturers did was wrong.

That this development, compounded by the digitalization of everything, posses a complete new set of challenges for traditional car makers is an other story.

Regarding their seats, that line seems to have been going really well. EM said it hasn’t been a bottleneck and they can scale their seat production too very easily. If anything, I see that as a sign that their vertical integration is working, even with Munro & Associates going as far as staying that they were floored by the margins the model 3 was getting.

It is all about complexity, there is no added value for a caraker to produce their own seats. It is eating up resources and management attention. Both of which would have been better put behind the production ramp and the technical side of an EV car.

There is a reason for the specialized nature of the car industry. Regardless, had Teslas aim been to revolutionize the way cars are built I agree with a newly concieved vertical integration being a good idea. But that was not the initial goal, was it? Mission creep was never a good thing.

That being said I personally hope that Tesla manages the turn around, it's just that I'm not so optimistic anymore.

> I don't see any non-Chinese automaker besides Tesla and possibly GM taking EVs seriously.

Every car manufacturer either has electric cars today or has hybrids with plans to move into electric cars.

Not sure why you think suddenly the entire automotive market is going to capitulate and give up everything to Tesla.

That just seems bizarre to me.

At this point in time there are no other auto manufacturing companies mass producing & mass selling EVs other than Tesla. Their Model 3 by itself is now outselling the entire BMW sedan lineup in the US (BMW's second largest market after China).

There are certainly a lot of hybrids being sold around the world. There are still very few strictly electric cars being made or sold anywhere on earth, that aren't Teslas. It turns out it is very difficult to do what Tesla has.

The industry is running at least five years behind Tesla presently. It'll continue to catch up, without question. Tesla will be doing $40 billion in sales by the time it does and will legitimately be in the league of BMW size wise at that point.

You seem to ignore Renault-Nissan. Nissan has sold over 300k Leafs globally. The Zoe sold more than all Tesla models combined in Europe.

You should look up the Chevy Bolt.

'Catching Up' might be more reserved for Tesla. They cant make cars, but automakers can.

I don't think this chart bears our your thesis very well:


VW seems to be taking electric seriously now, and the emissions scandal was quite possibly the kick in the teeth they needed. It helped that the US EPA waived fines and instead forced that money to be used for EV investments. Relative to Ford and Toyota still trying to avoid proper investments into EV, VW has made a surprisingly agile looking swing to electric tech. The e-Golf battery density jumped mid-model year this year, which is fascinatingly quick for the established lead times of car manufacturing, and VW may be on pace for their goal of a 2020 turnaround to primarily EV manufacturing, which would have surprised a lot of people as recently as last year.

They are going to take it on the chin for a while for the lies they perpetrated, but the interesting thing is how much they genuinely seem to be turning things around, as a surprising pace for a traditional automaker.

As pointed out elsewhere in the thread, don't sleep on Renault-Nissan Alliance. Carlos Ghosn was saying the future of the companies was all electric as far back as the original Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt launch window (when Tesla was still trying to fulfill early orders for the original Roadster). Between Renault and Nissan they are the largest EV manufacturer right now, with the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe both having top spots on EV sales. Nissan has announced that their Infiniti sub-brand will be moving to hybrid/EV only soon, and there is a very interesting shell game Nissan has been playing with their Nissan USA subordinate to eventually move all the current ICE-heavy/truck-heavy divisions that are currently still very profitable in the US into a subsidiary that they can spin-off/drop/bankrupt at a moment's notice. Nissan leadership seems to be truly predicting that the market will fall out under ICE and heavy vehicles sooner than anyone else in auto manufacturing is expecting, and putting their money where their mouth is in their corporate structuring and bet hedging. It's fascinating to watch, and as an EV fan, I'm hoping the Renault-Nissan Alliance is right.

Why is a Tesla going to cost less to service out of warranty than a BMW or Mercedes electric?


I was asking about hypothetical electric competitors there, that's what the 'electric' at the end is there for.

Point taken, removed my comment. I need coffee.

I think because based on my experience most of those costs are engine/transmission related. Of course the air filter, cooling system, and inspection are still there, but I hear costs are about half of similar premium sedans.

> Ford is deprecating sedan manufacturing and only building trucks

Not really accurate- they’re still making the mustang, crossovers, and SUVs too.

Crossovers and SUVs are essentially trucks for fuel economy and emissions regulations purposes.

I would take this with an even bigger grain of salt since Worm Capital who did the visit has Tesla as their biggest stock holding. And surely your judgement must be clouded if you think Tesla has the best in class self driving technology.

> And surely your judgement must be clouded if you think Tesla has the best in class self driving technology.

They have the best in class self driving technology that's actually in production. Until I can actually sit in one of Waymo's cars, it doesn't mean much.

Waymo isn't pushing tech into peoples hands that is killing people.

Sure, because they have nothing to push.

I think this retort sounded better in your head than out in the open.

Sounds just fine when I read it. If you don't have something in production, you have nothing.

"Is creating" has different connotations from having it already. That said not much that has been gleaned about their model is terribly impressive, and rolling their own hardware isn't going to make up for that.

We do know a few things though.

(1) Navigant ranked them dead last compared to their competitors earlier this year.

(2) They don't believe in LIDAR which almost everyone else is using to supplement the camera/radar based sensors. I trust the combination of Apple, Waymo, Baidu, GM etc to pick the best self driving architecture.

Tesla DOES have the best in class self driving available today. Waymo is ahead but I can't stroll on down to the dealer and buy their tech yet.

GM Super Cruise technology (which you can buy today) is superior in some ways.

Read the article.

It is talking about what Tesla is creating not what they have today.

Speaking of which.

> We believe Tesla is creating a best-in-class self-driving technology.

What are they basing that belief on?

> According to Tesla, the company believes it can gather 1 billion miles of data per year from current drivers.

Good training data is necessary but having a lot of training data alone is not a guarantee for success.

I believe a lot in Elon Musk and Tesla but I would like to hear a good argument from Worm Capital about why they think Tesla will have the best-in-class self-driving technology.

Strange then how all these Tesla fanboys jump in to parrot Autopilot Is Not Self Driving Everyone Knows This whenever someone bring up the criminal irresponsibility of marketing this feature to the public.

In previous reports of delays in Tesla production I had assumed that the delays were in vehicle assembly. This article asserts that battery production was a major bottleneck, and that the provider of their equipment is getting them a version that’s three times as fast and cheaper to run. I wonder how much of this price point is just cheaper faster equipment?

While shortage of Panasonic cells and larger batteries containing multiple cells has been a concern at times, you can't just look at the battery production itself. I believe many of the delays in production have been due to battery _pack_ production, whereby cells are organized into complex hierarchies in specific orientations (+/-, current flow controlled) to achieve greater heat dissipation and improve energy density. This workflow step is not on Panasonic but on Tesla, and I believe they struggled with model 3 pack shortages for months, though general vehicle assembly may have also been a bottleneck.

They’re a little vague, but it stands to reason they were referring to the pack assembly machinery.

"Investor is bullish about company he invested in" is not news, let alone "hacker news".

On the other hand we are having a fantastic discussion on battery chemistry and recycling courtesy of hwillis in this thread.

I always upvote things that yield an interesting didcussion.

With that line of reasoning, no one should talk about the cost of any component in a Tesla because it's either made by Tesla or by an entity that is paid by Tesla.

In other words, few things can be said if only independent people can talk about them.

That doesn't follow from this line of reasoning.

I objected to an article premised on a self-interested statement from someone who's inherently optimistic about Tesla. Neutral, grounded reporting about any profit-making company is always welcome.

Aside from their cars, I really wished they released a low cost 1-2kWh powerwall. I would love to have a power bank without buying all the bulky AGM batteries and capable to charge with <400W of solar panel capacity for emergency purposes.

I would happily go for one, if the current 13.5kWh costs $5,900 (plus $700 'supporting hardware') you'd think they could do something like you're asking for in the $1K range. I imagine they don't because they assume people are using so much power in their homes that a pack like that would only keep things on for a couple of hours. Of course, it sounds like the cost of the cells is a very small part of the price, some of which is the inverter and cooling, some of which is recovering R&D costs, but you'd think their profit must still be significant... ($6,600 installed, of which ~ $1,350 is battery, apparently).

Yeah, the sub-1K would be a resonable price point. A lot of place (including where I live) does not have peak metering. Essentially it will take over 20 years for me to breakeven for the power bank which really does not make sense at a financial point of view. I think a lot of people would want a 2 kWh battery hooked up to their existing solar setup just for emergency purposes. I live on the east coast and it would be perfect for the essentials. Just enough to keep the boiler going for hot water and a couple lights until the power comes back up. We get these short term blackouts (especially during snow storms) which is just long enough to be annoying (like 2-3 hrs) but not long enough to make bringing out the generator worthwhile.

Build your own. At that size it wouldn't be hard. You could use large LiFePO4 cells to save time at a slightly increased cost. For $500 you can have a 1.4kWh bank of 100A cells. Or you can buy used electric car packs for less per kWh.

Keep in mind something that small is not capable of running a whole house. You'd drain them very quickly, especially with HVAC running.

1.4 kWh sounds perfect for me. I just need enough to keep the essentials up without setting up the generator. Any recommendations where I can get some of the parts you are talking about?

Search for CALB 100Ah LiFePO4. There are other manufacturers too. They're about $125/cell.

I haven’t looked at UPSes in a while and their ratings are, I see, still essentially a lot of horseshit.

Sifting through the impressive sounding numbers, it looks like you can buy an online UPS with about a tenth of the KWh capacity of a powerwall for about the same price.

Now I want Tesla to build online UPSes...

Do you want it hooked up to the grid? Otherwise that’s fun DIY project with 18650 batteries.

Also a potentially sparking invitation to the fire department for a visit!

Working with lithium batteries is not to be performed without lots and lots of caution. The amount of energy in such cells that can be delivered, in a very surprising manner that is guaranteed to catch attention, is dangerous to say the least. And that's just from a single cell, a failing bank of cells is guaranteed to be a great conversation starter!

I'm sure there are those that can safely work with the stuff, but I'd not bet the house and family on it. Play safe!

(okok, enough with the puns now)

Sounds like an incredible time sink and a fire hazard, for not that much of a benefit. Sometimes it's just easier to go into a store and buy something.

Yeah, that's the downside of DIY. 2kWh of power is alot of energy to release.

I hear the total chemical energy hound in batteries is much higher than the usable capacity.

I wouldn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of a lithium fire. I’m pretty sure it would melt the side of my house off.

Yeah, I saw on YouTube that some guy was trying to build their own power wall. Do you have suggestion for a good tutorial? The thing I like the most about the power wall is the power transition. The moment the power kicks out, the power wall kicks in.

Agree! One of he better selling points especially over things like a genny.

For that you’ll need a professional. It’s really dangerous (and illegal?) if your system backfeeds the grid.

I know only very few investors that would be tech savvy enough to make that call, and I don't know any investors that will publicly talk down a company they have invested in. This is pretty much content free.

"That’s if “commodity prices remain stable”, but otherwise they came out of the tour confident that they will achieve the important price target by the end of the year."

What are these things made from and where does that stuff come from? Was any of that part of the big tariffs that were recently announced?

For Tesla the cases are steel, but that's a tiny cost. The cost drivers are nickel, cobalt, and graphite in that order. Nickel stabilized lately but is still subject to fluctuations in demand- entirely at the whim of stainless steel, the main consumer. Cobalt is anyone's guess, but is usually fairly stable and batteries still aren't the largest consumer (IIRC, but it's very close). Graphite is pretty stable because >40% is synthetic. It's a somewhat nasty process that requires a lot of acids and tons of energy, but it's nothing special.

Nickel is a worry. Cobalt is unlikely to be a concern for tariffs since it would probably help China to tax it. Graphite might be under threat too since it's made in both the US and China.

Other materials like lithium or organics are unlikely to be taxed or are manufactured at large scale.

They have parts made of metal. So, ya. They will feel the tariffs. Even if they aren't using steel, prices on all engineered metals (ie built to specific standards) will rise as those who can switch away from steel. But I doubt raw metals are a significant cost in something like a tesla battery. It is a heavily engineered product, not an I-beam for a bridge. The real costs should be in manufacturing and non-metal raw materials.

How recyclable are these batteries? I haven't seen much info on how they will be handled at end of life.

Extremely. Tesla batteries require some disassembly effort, and the model 3 makes recycling trickier because the cells are potted in plastic, but the actual cells of any li ion battery are eminently recyclable.

The process involves shredding or incinerating the cells first, then dumping the results in an electrolysis tank. Because the cells are essentially just chunks of plastic, aluminum, copper (and steel for teslas) and various powders, the large chunks can be easily sorted from the anode and cathode material by washing. The powder goes into an electrolysis bath, which extracts the high-value metals (cobalt and nickel) to a pretty good purity. The carbon leftovers (anode, electrolyte, and plastics) collect at the bottom with the lithium and leftover cathode material (aluminum, silicon, other things depending on the chemistry). The leftovers are mostly sold as clinker.

You could extract the lithium from that, but at present it's not done. For one thing, batteries actually have a lower concentration of lithium than lithium brine and even some lithium-bearing ores. Recycling is also just so low-volume that if you did extract the lithium you wouldn't really have enough to be worth selling.

Regardless, the clinker material is ecologically inert. Nickel and cobalt are the only hazardous materials in the battery. Everything else is extremely common in nature- lithium is present in every water supply since it's a natural component of salt. Carbon is obviously everywhere, even in elemental forms. Any rock you pick up almost anywhere in the world is overwhelmingly likely to be primarily made of silicon. Aluminum is similar. NB that all the clinker materials will be in oxide or hydroxide forms.

Another option is to simply repurpose old batteries to stationary storage applications. Even if it’s only holding a five percent charge, who cares if they’re just sitting in a building somewhere.

Yep! Old batteries tend to still hold a charge quite well- they become less efficient under the same load, which gives the impression that they lose capacity much faster than is actually the case. If you derate them they perform quite well- a battery may last 60% as long as it did originally, but when used more slowly it will hold more like 80% of its original capacity.

In fact, battery degradation has in some cases been slower than battery innovation! Batteries have gotten better so quickly that the newer ones may have 50% more capacity even if the old ones didnt degrade much at all.

Edit: its also complicated by the multitude of batteries and chemistries. Li ion is incredibly diverse compared to other battery families, and the various types can't be used together. Practically speaking you can only reuse batteries of a single chemistry and form factor, and the chemistry changes every few years or less. Its just not a stable enough industry for that yet.

Arguably that's a reason for Tesla's PowerWall project, to secondary use old car batteries as additional source for PowerWall.

Interestingly, Nissan has a PowerWall-like project of their own, but only for secondary use batteries (as they want to prioritize car production, being you know a car company). You don't hear it advertised because Nissan has seen a far slower trickle of secondary use batteries than they originally expected to see, and thus have had very few of their PowerWall-like systems to sell to any market.

Because they take up space and space in a building isn't free. Nor is the equipment to use the batteries as storage

Nor is the electricity lost due to heating the inefficient battery. Old batteries also get hot, as their cathode(?) breaks down

This is incorrect; the cathode only breaks down during a fire or something catostrauphic. Li ion develops higher internal resistance due to SEI buildup, which is less plastic and causes voltage sag as ions migrate. However this effect is cubic (iirc, cant look it up on the throne) so at low draw its heavily reduced.

What is low draw depends very heavily on the chemistry, but at <1 C most batteries are only a couple percent less efficient. Every other energy storage method including hydraulic is far less efficient.

> Everything else is extremely common in nature- lithium is present in every water supply since it's a natural component of salt. Carbon is obviously everywhere, even in elemental forms.

The problem with carbon is not the element, but the molecules. Plastic is largely made of carbon, but doesn't belong in nature.

The "pyrolytic" (incineration + electrolysis) process just leaves elemental carbon. Shredding obviously varies. I believe the plastics are usually burnt, but I'm not sure what happens to the other carbon compounds- they're fairly simple things (eg ethylene carbonate and dimethyl carbonate), both of which break down in nature relatively quickly. I'm not sure what the timeline on biodegradeability is, but for comparison ethylene glycol (which is a bit simpler, but similar) breaks down in ten days according to wikipedia.

It seems to me like it'd be easier to burn them off rather than skimming them after electrolysis, but I don't want to assume.

> lithium is present in every water supply since it's a natural component of salt

I guess you mean salts in general, otherwise NaCl has no Li(thium) in sight :)

"table salt" is pretty much just NaCl, but no I don't mean salts in the general chemical sense. I mean salt- the kind in all water and the prehistoric stuff that is mined. That kind of salt is a big ol' mix that is primarily NaCl but has nontrivial amounts of lithium, potassium and magnesium compounds as well.

Lithium salts in particular are more common in freshwater than other kinds of salt, due to various geological properties that I dont really know much about.

That's neat! Where did you learn this?

Academic papers, press releases, a habit of closely following batteries for many years, and chemistry and engineering in school. Batteries are fascinating!

thank you @hwillis

Very recyclable.

Doesn't it still cost more than mining new ores?

Recycling vs extraction, as a technical process? No. But the effort of locating, transporting and reselling material is much more expensive, proportionally, at the current scale. Recycling a battery is not something that can be done locally, so it can require freight shipping. The end product may be a very small amount of materials that is too small to justify hiring salesmen. The flow of product is far too unreliable.

Still, it's economical to recycle batteries for the heavy metals alone. Recycling lithium would require an additional step (similar to the final steps of processing lithium brine, but simpler) that currently isn't done. Its cheaper to recycle than to extract even lithium, but the value of lithium in a battery is a couple dozen times less than the heavy metals.

That's still what $7500-$10K per Telsa though isn't it?

$5,000-$10,000, plus integration costs- this is on the cell level, not the pack level. Tesla's integration is somewhat more complex than others, although it has given them more performance.

But that's a huge part of the car, and the majority of the drivetrain cost. The motor costs probably a few hundred. When you consider all the things it actually replaces -fuel and exhaust, starter and alternator, a number of ancillaries- it's really starting to close in on an internal combustion engine. Not to mention that that level of drivetrain is high end in terms of power output.

Yes more or less. It’s critical because now it is on cost parity with an ICE drivetrain. Once it goes below it across the industry ICE drivetrains for consumer cars is toast.

Why is a battery alone being compared with an "ICE drivetrain" which consists of many, individual components? Also, drivetrain and powertrain are two distinct things, I believe you meant powertrain.

Powertrain is technically correct, since only the flywheel/torque converter/transmission/driveshaft (and occasionally the differential) are really replaced from a drivetrain.

The battery has represented ~80% of an electric powertrain's cost, so it's a reasonable proxy for replacing most of the powertrain. Even parts that aren't fully replaced, like the heater core, A/C and radiator are made significantly cheaper. It's very much an estimate, but it isn't inaccurate.

Recently it's becoming less representative. Drive stages (electronics) are getting more exotic and expensive as manufacturers recognize the value in them, and motors are probably going to continue using limited amounts of neodymium magnets. And of course, batteries have become far cheaper. Personally I can't wait- I want more focus to be on the motors and drivers, which are way more accessible from an aftermarket perspective. It takes tens or hundreds of millions to get into battery manufacturing, but only a few hundred thousand to get into making world-class motors or electronics. Crate engines for EVs are just waiting on the demand (and a friendly nod from manufacturers).

I meant to say powertrain. I need coffee.

Article is difficult to read. "now it’s about Worm Capital’s turn, but this time it was a tour of Gigafactory 1."

Here is a better article:


It appears it's old news, from June (and the above is from the horse's mouth, not an investor).

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact