Tesla is not ahead in lithium-ion battery tech, says Audi CEO: ‘We’re catching up’

The Tesla Model X and the Audi e-tron. (Photo: Achim Hartmann/AutoPista.es)

There are very few automakers in the market today that is as serious about electric car battery tech as Tesla. Over the years, Tesla has been hard at work improving its batteries, and as the company heads towards its highly anticipated Battery Day event, it is becoming more and more evident that the electric car maker is one of, if not the, leader in lithium ion batteries for electric cars. 

That is, of course, if one does not ask Audi CEO Markus Duesmann. In a recent talk with German magazine Focus.de, the Audi CEO, together with Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder, talked about the advent of electric mobility, the end of gas powered cars, and up and coming automakers like Tesla. 

Both the Prime Minister and the Audi CEO noted that the pandemic will likely accelerate change in the auto industry. With the world having been shaken by the virus, Germany actually has a chance to recapture some of the market that it has lost to other automakers. The country’s car industry, after, all is in a crisis, with 46% of employees still on short-time work as of June. 

To accomplish this, Söder noted that it would be necessary for the country’s auto industry to take a “real quantum leap.” “The time of the classic humming-humming car with a lot of horsepower is over,” he said. Audi CEO Duesmann, for his part, noted that mobility can only be solved with technology, and that digitization must be driven forward. 

With the talk surrounding next generation vehicles powered by sustainable solutions, the moderator of the talk asked the Audi CEO and the Prime Minister if Tesla has already overtaken Germany’s best. To this question, Duesmann had a ready retort. The CEO stated that he does not see Tesla being ahead in lithium ion battery tech at all. With this, it would not be long before Germany’s automakers catch up. “We’re catching up with seven-mile boots,” Duesmann said. 

The Prime Minister was in agreement, stating that he also does not see Tesla being far ahead. Söder did state that he is a great admirer of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s work in the space industry. But in terms of the auto market, other companies can do what Tesla can accomplish, and Germany’s carmakers may even be ahead in some aspects. “Tesla is not bad, but others can do it too. We can stay ahead in engineering,” the Prime Minister remarked. 

Interestingly enough, it will only be a matter of time before Tesla manages to capitalize on Germany’s car making mastery. The electric car maker is currently building Gigafactory Berlin, a facility that is expected to start operations next year by producing the Model Y.

As noted by Spiegel Online in a report about the crossover, the vehicle is nearly perfect, and it is only weighed down by its build quality, which still falls below Germany’s best. But with Gigafactory Berlin in the picture, Tesla customers in the region could look forward to acquiring vehicles with classic German build quality and the renowned tech of Tesla. 

H/T Alex Voigt

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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