Elon Musk sets expectations for Tesla’s cell production ramp on Battery Day’s eve

Tesla Gigafactory Nevada battery cell production line (Credit: Super Factories)

With Battery Day just a few hours away, Tesla CEO Elon Musk appears to have decided to set some expectations for the upcoming and highly-anticipated event. In a series of tweets, Musk clarified that the innovations which would be announced on Battery Day will be affecting Tesla’s long-term production, with the technology not reaching serious high-volume production until 2022.

Musk did state that Battery Day’s innovations will be relevant to the company’s future vehicles like the Cybertruck, Semi, and the next-generation Roadster, all of which would benefit from the company’s next-generation cells. In a follow-up tweet, Musk also noted that despite Tesla’s efforts to produce its own cells, the company will not be reducing its battery purchases from partners like Panasonic, LG Chem, and CATL.

“We intend to increase, not reduce battery cell purchases from Panasonic, LG & CATL (possibly other partners too). However, even with our cell suppliers going at maximum speed, we still foresee significant shortages in 2022 & beyond unless we also take action ourselves,” Musk wrote.

Seemingly citing the lessons that Tesla learned during the painful Model 3 production ramp, Musk further highlighted that the challenges involved in scaling the production of new technology are notable. The CEO added that ultimately, making the “machine that makes the machine” is “vastly harder than the machine itself.”

“The extreme difficulty of scaling production of new technology is not well understood. It’s 1000% to 10,000% harder than making a few prototypes. The machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself,” the CEO wrote.

Musk’s recent Twitter announcements about the timeframe for Battery Day’s innovations appear to have been received somewhat negatively by Wall Street, with TSLA shares taking a 3% drop on Tuesday’s pre-market. That being said, the CEO’s statements could also be seen as a way for Tesla to potentially underpromise and overdeliver in the long run, similar to how the company conducted its Model Y ramp.

While Elon Musk’s Battery Day announcement may seem quite cautious, the CEO’s statement actually hints at a rather aggressive ramp for the production of the company’s own battery cells. Achieving high-volume production in 2022, for example, would mean that Tesla intends to build Roadrunner lines across its facilities within the next 15 months, and ramp each accordingly. That’s a pretty aggressive timetable, and it’s something that could help the company become an even more legitimate mass-market automaker in the next few years.

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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