IDTechEx believes that Gigafactory is a part of the bigger lithium-ion battery race, with East Asia in the leading position
Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is creating the largest factory building in the world with the Gigafactory which will be capable of producing at least the 2015 world’s production capacity. While the IDTechEx, research firm specializing in battery, praises Tesla for its eye-catching project, it merely considers it a part of gigantic lithium-ion battery production ramp up.
In an interview with BBC Television World News, IDTechEx Chairman Dr. Peter Harrop said that the East Asians, particularly Chinese, are in the leading position when it comes to lithium-ion battery.
Mr. Harrop claimed that the Californian electric vehicle (EV) maker is copying the Chinese automaker BYD Auto in its plans to produce battery cells for vehicles, storage batteries, and solar. He expects BYD to have battery capacity equivalent to the Gigafactory by 2020.
While Tesla currently uses battery technology of Panasonic, which is its strategic partner at the Gigafactory to power its vehicles, BYD has its own battery technology.
Tesla recently announced plans to introduce first the radically different bus, while BYD is already taking orders worth $1 billion for all-electric buses. Additionally, the Chinese car manufacturer uses the batteries for its own products, as well as offers them to its EV competitors. Conversely, it appears that Tesla only plans to produce batteries to satisfy its own needs.
While agreeing that high battery costs is the main reasons consumers usually ignore all-electric car, Mr. Harrop said Tesla requires more than just economies of scale at the Gigafactory to bump up range of an affordable EV.
He highlighted that the leading battery-makers are changing main trials in the battery by “adding silicon into the anodes in a tricky way and, chemistry, such as different nickel manganese cobalt NMC for higher capacity cathodes.” This would allow them to increase energy density and reduce the overall cost of a vehicle. The research firm sees other changes in the batteries, including non-flammable electrolytes.
IDTechEx claims that LG Chem is the leading battery maker which plans production capacity of 50GW by 2020, ignoring the fact that Tesla plans to triple Gigafactory production capacity to 150GWh of battery packs and it is using new cell format to increase efficiency.
The gist of Mr. Harrop’s interview was that the Gigafactory is merely a part of a bigger lithium-ion battery race and expects shortage of such batteries in the long term.