Photos courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
In order to make electric vehicles more affordable, lowering the cost of batteries is key. Putting this task to the forefront, Tesla began research and development, and soon the production of the most important component of any electric vehicle—the battery. To achieve its goals, the manufacturer acquired or entered into partnerships with several researchers, companies, and start-ups, and Springpower International became one of them.
During Battery Day, Elon Musk and Drew Baglino talked about how Tesla is going to save money on battery production, and one of the main components was the cathode production process. The planned changes in the battery chemistry in relation to the cathode provide significant savings (-12%) and slightly increase the range (4%). The goal here is to ditch expensive and ethically problematic cobalt in favor of a high nickel cathode. In addition, Tesla showed how much water consumption can be reduced (in fact, almost no water is needed for production), which will also be part of the savings.
As the facts show, Springpower International's technologies and methods will become part of the 4680 Tesla battery manufacturing process. Two weeks before Battery Day, Tesla acquired several patent applications from Springpower International, based in Mississauga, Canada, for just $3. One of these apps details an innovation process similar to that described by Tesla on Battery Day, TechCrunch reported.
Traditionally, the production of cathodes for electric vehicle batteries generates a large amount of contaminated water. Springpower’s process cleverly recirculates the chemical solution, removing the need for expensive water treatment. In addition, Tesla described a method that also reuses water and does not produce wastewater. In addition to all this, the manufacturer can also use that same process to directly consume the metal powder coming out of recycled electric vehicles and grid storage batteries.
Thus, the purchase of patents, the description of Springpower technologies for the production of Tesla 4680 batteries, and several other factors indicate that the two companies have close cooperation, and perhaps hint at something more, such as an acquisition. For example, Springpower CEO Michael Wang has consistently interacted with posts by Tesla employees on LinkedIn, which may hint at a close and warm relationship.
Another interesting observation is the fact that Tesla was hiring in Mississauga. In mid-March, Tesmanian discovered that Tesla was looking for a Chemical Operator there. At that moment, the location for the new position was unclear, since Tesla did not have any known facilities in Mississauga, but now the situation is clearing up. While there is no official confirmation at the moment, it is likely that Tesla has acquired a tiny startup whose technology was considered by others to be too far from commercialization. The symbiosis between Springpower and the largest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world will definitely bear very juicy fruit in the form of critical savings in battery production.
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