Tesla to build cars made of batteries and hit $25k price tag about three years down the road

Promises full autonomy and big range boost too

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Tesla will make cars out of batteries and says doing so is the way to cut electric car costs to $25,000.

The company on Tuesday staged its annual general meeting and followed it with a “battery day”. The event was a peculiar spectacle as it took place in a parking lot and social distancing requirements meant that attendees drove to the event and then sat in their cars during presentations. Tesla co-founder Elon Musk and other execs presented from a stage backed by a colossal screen. Attendees sounded their horns in lieu of applause or when asked by Musk if he was audible.

The event was largely devoted to new battery technology and Tesla’s efforts to halve costs per kilowatt-hour through cell design, use of new materials and manufacturing efficiencies.

Tesla's drive-in AGM

Tesla's drive-in AGM, seen from the stage. Click to enlarge

Musk explained that Tesla has created new cell designs that shorten the path an electron takes through a battery. Doing so makes batteries more efficient and helps them to run cooler.

The company also hopes to phase out cobalt in anodes and cathodes, as it is expensive. More nickel – a cheaper and abundant substance – is Tesla’s plan.

So are “structural batteries”. Musk said Telsa intends future models will use batteries both an energy source and the car’s structure, saying this is a transition to compare with the first aircraft designs that placed fuel tanks within a plane’s wings.

Investors were shown what looked like CAD drawings of the front of a chassis, with the implication being that much of the metal would be batteries.

Musk and his colleagues promised 56 per cent dollar-per-kWh cost reductions and a 54 per cent range increase could follow these innovations. Musk’s bottom line was a “compelling” $25,000 electric vehicle, complete with full autonomous driving mode, that he thinks takes the category into the mainstream.

But Musk said Tesla needs at least eighteen months to bring its new innovations to market, and three years to produce them in sufficient quantity to make the $25k car possible.

He also outlined Tesla’s ambition to produce 20 million cars a year, a figure that would replace 1 per cent of the world’s current liquid-powered fleet.

Musk’s presentation, as is generally the case, started late and felt rather unrehearsed. But the assembled investors lapped it up, honking lustily at the company’s news.

Investors were less impressed: Tesla shares fell around 5 per cent after the presentation, but are still trading at more than double their price in January 2020. ®

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