Takeaways from Tesla Battery Day

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Elon Musk hoped that Battery Day would prove a pep rally for his Tesla electric vehicle, an opportunity to rev up excitement about the line’s newest innovations. Spectators found it a little lackluster.

In fact, a day after the event, shares of Tesla fell about 5%, and slid even further during early-morning trading on Thursday. The tumble is the result of general disappointment. Some had anticipated that Musk would announce the proverbial “million-mile battery,” a car that could drive the distance without having to stop. The eccentric billionaire made no such announcement. But Musk did reveal that he would bring a $25,000 electric car to market in three years’ time. That news, however, also failed to electrify investors. In fact, many were unimpressed by the announcement, as the typically higher price of Tesla cars bolsters the luxury vehicle’s appeal.

Regardless, here are some major takeaways from Tesla Battery Day.

In-House Batteries

Tesla will soon begin manufacturing its own batteries in-house, which could lower the price of its vehicles. That means that Tesla prices could soon be on par with the prices of gasoline-powered cars.

Currently, Tesla buys batteries from Panasonic, and will likely continue the partnership for the foreseeable future. But Musk has been saying for some time that he hopes to switch to an in-house alternative, which will make production cheaper and faster.

Model S Plaid

Musk revealed that a new variation of the Model S sedan, called the Plaid, will be available for purchase in 2021. It will be capable of driving 520 miles between charges. Additionally, it will go from zero to 60 mph in under two seconds, with a peak speed of 200 mph. The model will cost a handsome $139,900 before insurance.

New North American Cathode Plant

Musk also announced that Tesla would soon erect a new cathode plant in the United States. The decision is part of a longer-term goal to reduce supply chain costs and streamline cathode production. Additionally, Tesla aims to make cathodes 76 percent cheaper that produce zero wastewater. The exact location of the new plant is yet unknown, but Musk has already hinted that it would be somewhere in the American Southwest. In July, when Musk announced a new factory in Austin, TX, he dropped a clue. He said he’d “strongly consider” putting his next plant in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

No More Cobalt

Tesla also hopes to eliminate the use of cobalt in its cathodes. Critics have argued that the extraction of the element often results in human rights violations and Musk has said in the past that he wants to remove cobalt from production. The timing for this is unknown, but Musk did say that the company would save money by nixing its use. “It’s absolutely critical that we make cars that people can actually afford,” he said. “Affordability is key to how we scale.”

The 25,000 Tesla

Speaking of affordability, a major announcement at Battery Day had to do with a potential $25,000 car. But such a vehicle is nothing more than a goal at present. Musk hopes to achieve the affordability target by cutting battery production costs, as per the reforms above. In fact, by updating the anatomy of its batteries, Musk says Tesla will be able to “halve” the price per kilowatt-hour.

Still, Musk has made similar promises before. He first claimed that a $25,000 EV was in the works in 2018. Back then, he said that such a car would become available within three years. He’s got one year left on the promise.