With Tesla hitting a milestone in the second quarter by recording a fourth consecutive profitable quarter, the electric car maker is poised to turn a new page towards even faster growth. Amidst this potential, Elon Musk has called on nickel miners to produce more nickel, which should allow Tesla to solve its most notable challenge to date: battery cell supply.
According to the CEO in the recently held earnings call, nickel based cells have higher energy density, which makes them invaluable for some of Tesla’s products like the Semi. Amidst the company’s push for longer range and more power in its batteries, a steady supply of nickel would allow the company to push its innovations further. For other projects such as the Gigafactory Shanghai made Model 3, iron phosphate batteries are a good alternative.
“There’s like two general classes of cell, there’s like iron phosphate and then the nickel-based. The nickel-based cells have higher energy density, so longer range. Obviously, those are needed for something like a Semi where every unit of mass that you add in battery pack, you have to subtract in cargo.
“So it’s very important to have a mass-efficient and long-range pack for batteries… Basically, our total vehicle efficiency has gotten good enough with Model 3, for example, that we actually are comfortable having an iron phosphate battery pack in Model 3 in China. That will be in volume production later this year,” he said.
This was emphasized by Elon Musk in a follow up statement, where he encouraged miners to mine more nickel. According to the CEO, nickel miners would have a lot of business with Tesla, as long as their operations are efficient and environmentally conscious.
“Well, I’d just like to re-emphasize, any mining companies out there, please mine more nickel. Okay. Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel and don’t wait for nickel to go back to some long — some high point that you experienced some five years ago, whatever.
“Go for efficiency, obviously environmentally-friendly nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time, if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally-sensitive way. So hopefully this message goes out to all mining companies. Please get nickel,” he added.
Research firm Wood Mackensie estimates that the demand for nickel would likely rise 64% between 2019 and 2025 as electric vehicles become more common. A good part of this rise would likely be accounted for by Tesla, considering that the company is only getting started with its expansion into the mass market auto territory and the utility sector.