Tesla battery tech remains unmatched, finds Wall Street analysts after teardown

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UBS analysts compared the batteries of seven all-electric vehicles including Tesla, Volkswagen, General Motors, and Toyota, among others. When it comes to battery technology, Tesla is considered one of the best in the industry. UBS analysts wanted to see if that was still the case now that big names have entered the EV market.

Following a teardown of the different EV batteries, the UBS analysts concluded that Tesla still leads in battery technology. The UBS analysts noted that Tesla will likely remain king of EV batteries for the next couple of years. They also noted that Volkswagen might be the competitor closest to Tesla on a global scale, thanks to its €33-billion 5-year EV investment.

However, UBS believes that Tesla’s lead in batteries is slim because the company relies on suppliers like CATL, LG Chem, and Panasonic. “While Tesla continues to lead with the best overall powertrain technology, the cost lead in battery cells is minor by now and will depend on its new proprietary cell design in the future,” wrote UBS analysts in a note.

During Battery Day in September, Tesla unveiled its 4680 cells which boast 5X more energy density and 6X more power. Tesla also stated that its 4680 battery cells would cost 56% less to produce per kWh and could bring the company into the age of the Terafactory. On the same day, Tesla announced its pilot line for the 4680 cells at Fremont, which may change the game in the EV battery production field.

The UBS analysts noted that automakers who wish to thrive in the EV sector must go all-in, similar to Volkswagen. This is especially notable considering the aggressive cost reductions in the EV battery market. “A steep cost reduction curve in combination with an ever-improving regulatory environment in favor of EVs makes it a necessity for auto companies to pursue an ‘all-in’ EV strategy, meaning that purely CO2-compliance strategies are likely to fail,” UBS wrote.

Tesla already seems aware of this and has been revving up to address the upcoming battery cost challenges. The company’s new Gigafactories in Berlin and Texas seem to designed to include battery production facilities. Elon Musk has stated that Gigafactory Berlin would have the “world’s largest battery factory,” and he has also noted that the facility will be producing the company’s 4680 cells.

Tesla has also filed documents with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that strongly indicate plans for cell production in the company’s Gigafactory located in the Lone Star state. Local media was able to confirm with a TCEQ spokesperson that the Tesla documents pointed to cell manufacturing in Giga Texas.

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Tesla battery tech remains unmatched, finds Wall Street analysts after teardown
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