Elon Musk wants to manufacture half a million cars per year at the Fremont car factory (within a few years time). Possible?

Elon Musk wants to manufacture half a million cars per year at the Fremont car factory (within a few years time). Possible?

I think that this is an extremely high target. And yes, the Tesla Model S really is a super car, but only 1 model is not enough to create the demand to manufacture half a million cars per year. And the Model X is also a great car. But to really create a demand for half a million cars per year Tesla Motors must have 10 different Electric Vehicles on offer to all of the car markets in this world. That would mean that Tesla Motors will have to introduce 1 new Electric Vehicle per year as from 2013. Then it just might be possible to reach this target of manufacturing half a million cars per year as from the year 2020. But each of these 10 different Electric Vehicles must be succesfull. Will that happen? Is Tesla Motors that good? Both Model S and Model X are super cars, but will the next 8 models be also that good? I personally hope that they are, let me be clear about that. And ultimately time will tell. But I sure would like to know other people's opinion on this topic.

Benz | July 29, 2013

@ Brian & @ Kleist & @ Timo

OK agreed, spelling should be right, so Fremont it is.

"Exciting times to watch that battle to evolve"
That's right, it's exiting indeed.

I think that the only way for others to catch up with Tesla Motors is when there will be a major breakthrough in battery technology. Until then Tesla Motors will stay ahead of all the others.

But don't you think that it would be wise for Tesla Motors to build a battery cell factory nearby the Tesla Motors factory in Fremont? After all, Tesla Motors is the only buyer of these specific battery cells. Now they have to ship these specific battery cells all the way from Japan every week/month. If they start producing these specific battery cells in Fremont, then at least they can save some money on transportation. Seems like a good idea to me.

And why doesn't Tesla Motors start producing it themselves, instead of buying it from Panasonic ("they're TM proprietary chemistry and architecture, in the 18650 form factor")?

Timo | July 29, 2013

Brian H, I think they are Panasonic proprietary chemistry, not Tesla. Made for Tesla, and probably protected by their deal, but Panasonic owns the battery details, not TM.

Battery pack architecture and anything related to that is Tesla proprietary.

Brian H | July 29, 2013

I think JB and others have stated that the cells are TM's own, and are not the industry standard.

"Exciting times to watch that battle to evolve"
That's right, it's exiting indeed."
The battle is just beginning; don't exit yet! ;)

TMC does believe in vertical integration. But, so far, battery manufacture is too big a mouthful, I think. Panasonic is a shareholder partner in TMC, too, so it is going to try and keep ahead of the curve with everything from research to QC. And TM is free to source cells anywhere. Suppose some other cell mfr comes up with a radical patented improvement. TM can turn on a dime and use those, instead.

It's a fascinating balancing act: promoting EV general adoption and assuring TMC is strong enough to force the mindset and paradigm change by inspiring demand and getting superior product into consumers' hands. The Secret Master Meta-Plan.

JZ13 | July 29, 2013

@Timo - Tesla has defensive patents on technologies that are similar to their battery design but not quite as efficient as the Tesla designed Panasonic 18650. This will make it difficult for anyone else to follow Tesla's path on battery technology. Tesla changed the 18650 so that it would be cheaper and more efficient for an automobile. They removed most of the outer metal protective jackets and also re-disigned the caps. I'm not saying no one else can create a good battery, but Tesla is further along than anyone else and they have put up a road block to anyone who wants to mimic their path.

DonS | July 29, 2013

Comparing Tesla's possible production to what NUMMI did in the same space is apples versus oranges. The level of vertical integration Tesla employs is a huge variable that was certainly different in the previous life of that facility. In-house production of motor/inverter sets, battery packs, and stamped metal parts takes up lots of floor space.

Benz | July 29, 2013

@ JZ13

"Tesla is further along than anyone else and they have put up a road block to anyone who wants to mimic their path."

Now, I find that really interesting. Could you please talk/explain more about that (more detailed). Thanks

JZ13 | July 29, 2013

@ Benz - there was a great thread in TMC about a month ago that you can search for. The poster explained Tesla's patents in layman's terms. It made the case that others will have to blaze a different trail if they want a battery as efficient as Tesla's.

negarholger | July 29, 2013
JZ13 | July 29, 2013

@kleist - Thank you! That's the one.

negarholger | July 29, 2013

@Benz - read the TMC thread and you'll see TM is already making most of the battery cells. What they buy from Panasonic are the naked cores.
Also TM just bought a big empty lot next the Fremont factory and that could be where Tesla plans to make next generation cells cores with a strong partner like Panasonic. Long term I think there is a strong possibility that Fremont will be mainly battery systems with only limited car manufacturing, most of the car body work and assembly at other sites - we can only speculate, time will tell.

Timo | July 29, 2013

@JZ13 & Kleist, I stand corrected. Nice to see that Tesla is actually doing something to batteries and not only rely on Panasonic in this. It opens up possibility that Tesla at some point manufactures their own batteries possibly in US which would make it near 100% US product.

Benz | July 30, 2013

Thanks for the info guys. This would indeed really be fantastic. And very strategic on the long term. As the battery pack is the main secret of the company (beside the software part of the Tesla Motors EV's).

Kleist, your idea makes sense to me. Awesome.

carlgo | July 30, 2013

Where do the raw materials for these batteries come from? That would have something to do with the best place to manufacture them.

Benz | July 30, 2013

@ carlgo

Most likely from Africa or Asia, I guess.

Brian H | July 30, 2013

Huge US lithium deposits are turning up, too.

Benz | July 30, 2013

That's great, because the more lithium deposits turn up the better it will be.

JZ13 | July 30, 2013

I believe I heard Elon say that lithium makes up less than 1% of the battery. I think Cobalt is the largest mineral in the battery.

Benz | July 30, 2013

All materials that go into battery cells are important of course, as it's all about the combination that gets you the desired results.