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Tesla launched a power battery revolution after three years of self-research and self-production.
Sep 25,2020 16:56CST
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The content below was translated by Tencent automatically for reference.

SMM News: if the world does not change, then change the world. I don't know if this is one of Musk's life maxims, but he did practice it. At 04:30 in the morning on Tesla's Battery Day, a crowd of geeks and fans stood in front of computers, waiting for tech maniac Musk to say amazing words that would change the automobile industry and even the world.

It may be that the expectations of the outside world are too high, and the battery day did not set off too much spray, but let the share price of Tesla plummet. At the scene of the event, Musk made an understatement, and the audience listened in the clouds. To sum up, the core message is: Tesla wants to build his own battery factory and produce his own batteries; he has launched a new generation of batteries that are bigger; the cost of his own batteries can be reduced by 56 per cent and the mileage of his battery can be increased by 54 per cent. However, it will take another three years for all this to happen.

Three years later, the price of an electric car with the battery could drop to $25000 (170000 yuan). At present, Musk has not named the car, just told fans that the cake is like this, you have something to look forward to.

Cross production capacity and break costs

Musk wants to make batteries, the reason is very simple, the progress of the existing battery industry is too slow, from capacity to price can not satisfy him, has seriously affected the process of Tesla's energy revolution.

He believes that Tesla is already ahead of other car companies in terms of technical level, and the main task in the next stage is to improve scale and efficiency.

Tesla wants to achieve Terawatt-hour capacity leapfrogging. What a concept, 116.6 GWH of global lithium-ion power battery shipments in 2019, that is to say, Tesla wants to achieve a 10-fold increase in global power battery production capacity.

In addition, the high price of power batteries has always been a worry for Musk. Musk wants the price of power batteries to be reduced to $100 per KWh, so that electric cars and fuel cars can match the cost.

According to Bloomberg data, the global battery cost of electric vehicles in 2019 is about $156 / kWh. If Tesla can reduce costs by 56%, directly by more than half, that means electric cars may be cheaper than fuel-fueled cars.

Systematic revolution

To achieve this goal, Tesla dismantled five parts. It involves the improvement of cell design, battery positive and negative electrode materials, production process, and vehicle manufacturing. Specifically:

4680 electrodeless ear battery: the large size increases the energy density of the power battery, the electrodeless ear design reduces the calorific value of the battery, solves the heat dissipation problem of the high energy density cell, and increases the peak power of charge and discharge. The energy of the new battery is five times that of the past, the power is six times that of the past, the cost is reduced by 14%, and the mileage is increased by 16%.

Silicon anode material: the raw silicon material is selected, the core anode is redeveloped, and the elastic ionic polymer coating is added to stabilize the silicon surface structure and improve the stability and safety of the core. Increase mileage by 20% and reduce cost by 5%.

High nickel cathode materials: Tesla developed cobalt-free high nickel cathode materials to maximize the content of nickel, while using new coatings and dopants to reduce the cost of the cathode by 15%.

Cell production process: the new 4680 electrodeless ear cell does not need to install and weld the electrode ear, and has a more simplified manufacturing process and fewer parts. Having seven times the production capacity of the previous production line can significantly improve production efficiency and reduce the investment cost per kilowatt-hour capacity by 75%.

Vehicle manufacturing: Tesla developed a new body structure, which designs the battery pack as a body structure and integrates the battery pack with the front and rear of the body. this structure brings higher strength of the car body, and the weight distribution of the vehicle is closer to the center. Bring more flexible handling. In order to achieve this design, Tesla specializes in the research and development of alloy materials to enhance the strength of the car body. This body structure will increase mileage by 14%, reduce overall weight by 10%, and reduce 370 parts.

How long will it take to do this? Tesla's answer is, "it takes about 18 months to form the above advantages, and it will take about three years to fully realize it."

In the above five links, except for the manufacturing part of the whole vehicle that Tesla is good at, but theoretically speaking, battery technology, battery materials and production technology are not what Tesla is good at. Where do the technology and talents for battery improvement come from?

The trend is clear and the landing is vague.

Combing through Tesla's past investments, battery technical support may come from three key investments: (Jeff Dahn Research Group), the Jeff Dayne research group that specializes in battery materials research, Maxwell, a battery technology company, and Hibar, a battery manufacturing equipment company. The technical background of these three institutions and enterprises corresponds to battery material research, battery process improvement, and production process improvement respectively.

Jeff Dayne is considered to be the pioneer and inventor of ternary material technology. In 2015, Musk chose to fund Jeff Dayne's team in the hope that he would develop lithium-ion batteries with longer life, lower cost and higher energy density for Tesla.

The core of Maxwell's technology is dry electrode technology and supercapacitor technology. Tesla bought Maxwell, a battery technology company, for $218 million in May 2019.

On battery day, Tesla claimed that the improved battery technology can greatly improve production efficiency, part of which is brought about by dry electrode technology. Compared with the traditional wet electrode process, the production process of dry electrode does not need solvent drying, which reduces the production cost and time cost. At the same time, this process can prepare thicker electrodes and improve the energy density of the battery to a certain extent.

Tesla's acquisition of Hibar was revealed by the media in October 2019. What Tesla pursues is the reduction of the cost of the whole life cycle of the power battery, and production is also a very important link. Through the transformation of production equipment, in order to further reduce investment costs and improve production efficiency.

Battery technology acquisition layout combined with their own vehicle manufacturing experience, the goal put forward by Tesla makes sense in logic. However, this seemingly exciting news did not buy fans and investors, especially those in the power battery industry, who seriously questioned it.

The core of the doubt is that Musk is vague about the specific plans for the improvement of battery technology, only talking about some ideas in general, and what he mentioned are not innovative technologies, which almost all battery companies have paid attention to. Moreover, from forward-looking technology to large-scale mass production, it also involves the issue of product control, consistency, quality rate how to ensure, Musk also did not say. There are no details that can be landed on the ground. in the eyes of people in the industry, they are just "painting cakes."

In fact, setting radical goals has always been Musk's work style. Combined with previous experience, most of Musk's Flag will "dive", can not be achieved as scheduled, but finally achieved, which shows that Musk has the ability of insight into the trend. In short, Tesla battery revolution has a long way to go, and once realized, it will undoubtedly reshape the power battery market pattern.

Stir up the market and reshape the pattern

At present, the participants in the power battery industry are mainly concentrated in China, Japan and South Korea, while there are no strong participants in Europe and the United States. The global power battery industry is showing a tripod pattern of China, Japan and South Korea, and the industry competition pattern has been initially formed, and the major enterprises of China, Japan and South Korea have their own advantages. Will Tesla break this pattern?

The answer is very likely. As the world's highest-selling new energy car company, if Tesla develops its own battery successfully, it will not only stir up the power battery market. If Tesla's battery cost and car sales form a positive interaction with each other, the whole pattern of the new energy vehicle market may be rewritten.

According to SNE Research statistics, the installed capacity of the world's top 10 power battery enterprises in the first half of 2020 was 40GWH, accounting for 94% of the global power battery installed capacity, and the market concentration further increased, with the top three being LG Chemical, Ningde era and Panasonic respectively.

Interestingly, the top three battery companies in the world are all Tesla's current battery suppliers. It is no coincidence that to be in the top three, to a certain extent, it is driven by Tesla's sales.

For example, Ningde era CTP and BYD blade battery (GCTP), honeycomb laminated battery, these breakthroughs mainly stay in the improved production process level, and do not fundamentally change the performance of the power battery. As for the technological innovation of battery performance: solid-state battery, lithium-sulfur battery, lithium-air battery and so on, most of the research is still in the laboratory stage.

Tesla also failed to deal with these core technologies, otherwise, Battery Day would not seem so "boring". Without achieving a technological breakthrough, Tesla intends to use the systematic revolution to achieve the goal of improving efficiency and reducing costs, which is what Musk is good at doing.

Tesla publicly showed off his muscles, which is undoubtedly a loud alarm for power battery enterprises. If Musk's boast comes true again, what is the moat for battery companies? There must be a lot of people who can't sleep without thinking about it.

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