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Tesla's Million-Mile Battery May Be Different From CATL's Million-Mile Cells

by Ma. Claribelle Deveza June 26, 2020

Tesla's Million-Mile Battery May Be Different From CATL's Million-Mile Cells

Featured Image Credit: @teslapodcast/Twitter

Tesla and CATL may have different million-mile batteries that focus on different characteristics. Last month, Reuters broke news that Tesla partnered with China-based battery supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) to develop a battery with a longer lifespan for Giga Shanghai’s Model 3. The trusted news outlet automatically linked the battery to Tesla’s highly-anticipated million-mile battery. However, some keen Tesla supporters disagree with Reuters' claim

Following Reuters' report, Bloomberg published an article featuring CATL Chairman, Zeng Yuqun. Bloomberg’s report talked about the Chinese battery supplier's million-mile battery. Yuqun noted that CATL was ready to produce its million-mile battery for any interested parties.

The idea that Tesla would allow CATL to sell the million-mile battery to other EV automakers perplexed TSLA supporters. Tesla Daily’s Rob Maurer perfectly explained the confusion Reuters and Bloomberg’s articles circulated in the TSLA community. 

“So Reuters had reported in mid-May that the “new 'million-mile' battery at the center of Tesla’s strategy was jointly developed with [CATL]," and now, just weeks later, CATL was announcing market availability of a million-mile battery?” he wrote.

Maurer reasoned that Tesla’s million-mile battery could be different from the one CATL’s Chairman talked about during his Bloomberg interview. He explained that many factors made up a battery, including cost per kWh, chemistry, energy density, power, charge rate, stability/safety, and lifecycle. 

In his interview, Zeng shared the lifecycle and cost of CATL’s million-mile battery. The Chairman said that CATL could produce a battery that lasted 16 years and 2 million kilometers (1.24 million miles) at a 10% higher price than traditional batteries currently found in EVs. 

The higher cost of the battery Zeng talked about with Bloomberg is a strong indication that it is not the same as Tesla’s million-mile battery. TSLA is continuously trying to drive down costs, specifically those on the manufacturing level. The reason Tesla favors vertical integration is to reduce costs. So it wouldn’t make sense for the company to develop a more expensive battery that could increase the price of its vehicles. 

The Model S, with an EPA range of 400+ miles, is an excellent example of what Tesla would probably do with its million-mile battery. The updated Model S increased in range, but its price was reduced. 

Those familiar with Tesla know that its battery chemistry is the automaker’s secret sauce. The company is very secretive about its battery chemistry. So it's difficult to fathom that Tesla could share its million-mile battery chemistry with CATL, knowing that the Chinese battery supplier was planning to sell it to competitors. Given that information, Tesla and CATL’s million-mile batteries might have differences in battery chemistry as well.

Maurer dove deeper into the different lifecycles between Tesla and CATL’s lifecycles. He confirmed with Tesla relations that the company has already launched a million-mile battery in its energy storage systems, which begs the question: If Tesla already had a million-mile battery, what was CATL’s contribution to their partnership?




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