(Noted News) — Everyone’s favorite eccentric billionaire held a socially distanced meeting with 200 of Tesla’s biggest shareholders in a Fremont, California, parking lot. From their cars, the shareholders, who have had a parabolically successful 2020, honked in approval to Musk’s announcement of the upcoming major milestones for the company.
A notable milestone was the promise of a Tesla model priced at $25,000 in the next 3 years. Musk had actually mentioned plans for a cheaper Tesla back in 2018, but he described its development as “really tough” and plans were pushed back.
“A lot of people want to buy a Tesla, but they simply don’t have enough money.”
As it stands, Tesla’s cheapest car is the Model 3, starting around $37,000 before any customizations or subsidies. This has limited the appeal of Teslas and the broader electric vehicle market, with only 2% of vehicles sold in the US being battery powered.
Fans of Musk and Tesla will not have to wait as long for the other most notable milestone, which was the establishment of a battery factory in Fremont California. This was a confirmation of rumors from August when a drone flew over the construction site of the “Tera battery manufacturing facility.”
The battery factory will be operating on a 24/7 basis, with 4 shifts of up to 100 workers to maximize productivity.
Up to this point, Tesla has been sharing a factory with Panasonic to create its batteries in the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. Panasonic, the Japanese tech giant, has been responsible for creating the round cell batteries found in the Model 3, Model Y, Model S, and Model X. In the Shanghai factory, Tesla uses battery cells from CATL and LG Chem.
It is not yet clear whether Tesla plans to handle battery production independently, or if it will continue some type of partnership with Panasonic or a different company.
On top of the new factory, Musk also announced plans to innovate the battery manufacturing process itself.
Instead of importing its lithium from Australia and South America, Tesla will be building a lithium mine and a cathode plant somewhere in North America to reduce the distance that the materials travel by 80%.
“We’re gonna go and start building our own cathode facility in North America and leveraging all of the North American resources that exist for nickel and lithium, and just doing that just localizing our cathode supply chain and production, we can reduce miles traveled by all the materials that end up in the cathode by 80%,” Drew Baglino, Tesla’s SVP for powertrain and energy engineering said.
Musk also mentioned that the company has been researching a new method of extracting lithium from ore, one of the most expensive and energy-consuming steps of the battery manufacturing process, by using sodium chloride or table salt.
“Nobody’s done this before, to the best of my knowledge, nobody’s done this… It’s a very sustainable way of obtaining lithium.” He said that the whole process will have a relatively low impact on the environment, adding that the land that the mining will take place in “will look pretty much the same as before.”
The battery manufacturing facility, the new mines, and the new process should, according to Tesla, reduce the cost per kilowatt-hour of its batteries by 56%
Though the overall vibe of the meeting was exciting for shareholders and fans of the electric vehicle universe, Tesla (TSLA), ended up tumbling 7% in share price, about $50 billion in value, because of the expectations that these innovations would come a bit sooner instead of pushed off into an ambiguous future.
Tesla’s share price has a 52-week low of $43 and a high of $502, giving it one of the best tech-stock rallies of recent years.