Tesla relies on China for 39% of its battery supply chain: report

Image used with permission for Teslarati. (Credit: Tom Cross)

A recent analysis of publicly-available information about Tesla’s supply chain has reportedly revealed that almost 40% of the suppliers for materials used in the company’s batteries are Chinese companies. The analysis was conducted by Nikkei Asia in collaboration with Tokyo’s Fronteo, which utilizes a machine-learning algorithm to find data. 

As noted in the companies’ analysis, public information included in financial statements and press releases identified 13,428 companies that were believed to supply items for Tesla’s electric vehicle production. The number includes “quinary” suppliers, which are five steps up the supply chain. 

Interestingly enough, China ended up being listed as the largest supplier of materials for the lithium-ion batteries that are used in Tesla’s electric vehicles. Companies from China comprised 39% of the 61 firms that were listed under the EV maker’s “storage battery” category. 

These companies included Ganfeng Lithium, a notable producer of lithium products; Novoray, which produces inorganic compounds; and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, which produces cobalt. The Chinese government holds shares in Novoray and Huayou Cobalt, with a 9% and 12% stake, respectively. 

Despite China’s heavy presence in Tesla’s batteries, Nikkei Asia and Fronteo’s analysis indicated that United States companies comprised 22% of Tesla’s overall suppliers. From an overall standpoint, Chinese firms accounted for only 17% of Tesla’s suppliers. 

Fronteo director Mari Yamamoto noted that Tesla faces some risk due to its battery supply chain’s dependence on Chinese companies. Tesla, however, has shown signs that it is taking steps to lower its reliance on Chinese parts and materials. Tesla’s investment in a dedicated lithium refinery in Texas is a notable indication of the electric vehicle maker’s intentions. 

It should be noted that Tesla’s electric vehicles, particularly the Model Y crossover and the Model 3 sedan, are considered among the most American-made vehicles today. On Cars.com’s 2023 American-made Index, the Model Y stood at the top of the website’s rankings, followed by the Model 3 in 2nd place, the Model X SUV in 3rd place, and the Model S sedan in 4th place. 

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Tesla relies on China for 39% of its battery supply chain: report
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