Over the past few years, Tesla has become the world's largest consumer of lithium-ion batteries.
In 2014, Tesla announced that it had signed an agreement with Panasonic to create its own battery manufacturer in-house at the Gigafactory, which opened in 2016. Instead of buying Panasonic Japanese-made batteries and shipping them worldwide, the automaker wanted to get batteries that would be produced in the same building where it was planned to build batteries for its first mass-market electric car, Model 3.
Source: Thepaper / Elon Musk and Yoshihiko Yamada
This vertical integration, combined with the massive scale Tesla planned to achieve at the Gigafactory, was supposed to help reduce costs to a level “previously unobtainable in battery cell and pack production,” Tesla said in its 2014 announcement. But the the first year of Model 3 production was plagued by the slow pace and inconsistent quality of battery (and battery pack) manufacturing. That led to delays in Tesla’s high production goals.
This prompted Tesla to search for other solutions to this issue.
In September, new jobs were opened on the Tesla website. Tesla has listed a job for a “manufacturing technician” in “Cell Manufacturing,” and they wrote:
"We are looking for an Engineering Technician to assist anode development and optimization R&D. Candidates should be familiar with Li-ion cell chemistry and have experience building and assembling cells for performance testing. This candidate will be a key member of a cross-functional product development team. This job includes the fabrication of laboratory scale Li-ion anodes, electrode processing, laboratory scale Li-ion cell builds, and data analysis. The primary responsibilities of this position will be to assist in experimental planning and to carry out experiments and analysis."
Also Federal lobby registration documents, available on the government’s lobbyist registry database, show that on October 2, 2019 filing was made that lists Hibar as a subsidiary with direct interest in the outcome of Tesla’s undertakings with the government of Canada.
Hibar Systems was founded in Canada in the early 1970s as a leader in precision-making of small cell batteries through a highly mechanized pump injection system.
In addition to this, Tesla has made a battery research deal with renowned Canadian li-ion battery pioneer Jeff Dahn. In 2016, Dahn transitioned his research group from their 20-year research agreement with 3M to a new association with Tesla under the newly formed ‘NSERC/Tesla Canada Industrial Research’. The collaboration has recently generated several interesting patents and research papers on a new Li-ion battery cell that would have much greater longevity than the current technology.
Tesla also recently added LG Chem as a supplier of battery cells. Along with this, it is rumored that Tesla this year acquired Maxwell Technologies Inc., a California-based battery company.
Source: Poland news Platform
Similar actions by Tesla intensified the work of Panasonic. Previously, a project for a joint venture for the production of electric batteries in Nevada suffered from a shortage of engineers, which negatively affected the speed of battery production.
Panasonic says it resolved a labor shortage problem that interfered with production efficiency at an electric battery factory in Nevada.
Panasonic said it has faced an industry-wide shortage of battery engineers after a construction boom in lithium ion battery megafactories to address the shift towards electric vehicles.
Allan Swan, the head of Panasonic’s US battery manufacturing unit based inside the gigafactory, said in an interview for Financial Time:
“Even today, demand is far outstripping supply when it comes to chemical engineers with lithium-ion experience.”
The company hired chemical engineers from the non-battery sectors and trained them in working with lithium-ion batteries. Now it employs 3,000 people, as well as about 200 technical assistants from Japan, who work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Allan Swan said:
“For us to move to [54GWh] should not be so hard. We now have the know how to do it in quite a high volume environment.”
“Our whole job is to make sure that Tesla wins.”
“If Tesla wins, Panasonic wins.”
Featured image: Ecocars