China-based Ganfeng Lithium Co Ltd, which currently stands as the world’s top lithium company by market cap, and its unit, GFL International Co Ltd, recently announced that they had signed a supply deal with American electric vehicle maker Tesla. As per the lithium company, the deal is intended to supply battery-grade lithium products to Tesla for three years starting from 2022.
The massive deal was formally announced by Ganfeng in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Monday. As per the lithium company’s filing, the sales amount and value of the three-year Tesla contract are still pending. The deal would likely be substantial, however, considering that Tesla intends to launch a number of key projects in its electric vehicle business in 2022.
The company, for example, has noted that it expects its two newest factories to start initial operations by the end of 2021. This suggests that Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin and Giga Texas facilities would likely see a ramp in their operations in 2022. Couple this with the fact that vehicles like the Cybertruck and the Semi — both of which are expected to utilize the company’s 4680 cells — might finally see some production next year, and it becomes no surprise that Tesla is securing supply deals for its products’ batteries.
Tesla’s recently announced three-year lithium supply deal with Ganfeng is quite unsurprising, considering that the China-based supplier has already supplied battery-grade lithium products for the electric car maker in the past. Ganfeng has also been able to capitalize on the rise of the electric vehicle movement, with the lithium provider posting stellar earnings this year. Due to rising lithium prices and strong demand, Ganfeng’s Q3 and nine-month net profits were up 507% and 648% on an annual basis, respectively.
Tesla’s aggressive battery strategies are starting to become evident. Apart from the company’s ongoing ramp of its in-house 4680 battery production pilot line at its Kato Road facility, the company is also placing massive orders for batteries from its suppliers. Reports from China also indicated that Tesla has placed an order for 45 GWh worth of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries from Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), which is enough for nearly 800,000 Model 3 Standard Range Plus and Model Y Standard Range units.
Tesla’s battery partner in Gigafactory Nevada, Japanese tech conglomerate Panasonic, has also unveiled its own 4680 battery cells. Kazuo Tadanobu, the head of Panasonic’s battery unit, was optimistic about the new battery, noting that the larger cell yields five times the capacity of smaller models. Panasonic also noted that it plans to start test production of its 4680 cells by March 2022 in Japan.
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