Tesla has plans to develop its own batteries, confirmed Elon Musk to CATL’s CEO, Zhou Jia. However, Tesla’s battery cell project may not interfere with the relationships it has established with Panasonic, LG Chem, and most recently, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL), over the years.
Elon Musk had told CATL’s CEO that Tesla wants to make its own batteries, reported Chinese media. Jia said: “From what I know, their [Tesla’s] technical roadmap will not have an impact on us. Currently, both parties are together exploring how to make batteries better, #China media citing #CATL CEO,” translated @DKurac on Twitter.
Late last year, Tesla’s ongoing negotiations with CATL as the main battery supplier for Giga Shanghai were revealed. In early 2020, their deal was finalized. According to InsideEVs, CATL and Giga Shanghai’s business relations could start in the second half of the year.
There were reports that Giga Shanghai might use CATL’s cobalt-free lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries and its cell-to-pack technology. A Tesla China executive reportedly revealed on Weibo that the cobalt-free batteries might not be LFP, stoking speculations that Tesla or CATL might have be experimenting with a new battery chemistry for Giga Shanghai’s vehicles.
CATL’s CEO did admit that the company’s R&D team was developing a cobalt-free battery. “Currently, the progress on our cobalt-free battery R&D is going smoothly. We are currently trying to figure out supply chain as it is a completely new, disruptive product,” he said, according to @DKrac.
All battery-related news is expected to be revealed during Tesla’s upcoming Battery Day, but it was postponed because of the global pandemic. As California moves to Phase 2 of its lockdown, Battery Day could be looming. Many theories have been shared about the highly-anticipated event and the announcements the company could make, including the development of Terafactories and a pilot battery cell manufacturing line in Fremont.
During the Q1 2020 Earnings Call, Elon Musk said that Battery Day could happen by mid-May. Currently, Tesla and Elon Musk are focused on the Fremont factory’s reopening, which Alameda County has yet to permit. Even so, workers have returned to the Fremont factory under Elon Musk’s order. Musk has said he is ready to accept the consequences of reopening the facility without Alameda County’s permission.