In pursuit of making cheaper cars, Tesla Inc. secured its lithium mining rights in Nevada to dig for lithium on its own.
Tesla has been seeking ways to cut battery costs and bring a $25,000 electric car to market. A push into mining is part of the plan.
The automaker made a decision to produce its own battery cells, and to enter production of battery cathodes and associated raw materials.
Last week, Elon Musk told investors that the company secured access to 10,000 acres of lithium-rich clay deposits in Nevada and would use a new, “very sustainable way” of extracting the metal.
Specialists consider that it’s is too difficult and expensive to obtain lithium from clay deposits, due to low recovery rates. Lithium has never been produced from clay in commercial quantities.
Nevertheless, Musk says Tesla will focus on development of a process of extraction the metal with the use of sodium chloride or table salt, instead of more expensive chemical reagents.
This technology hasn’t been proven yet, and draws skepticism from some analysts.
Meantime, Tesla Inc. is readying to start sales of China-made standard-range Model 3s with cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are cheaper to produce.
Previous reports said that Tesla would use LFP batteries made by China’s CATL.
Currently Tesla’s Chinese plant takes nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries for production of Model 3 vehicles. The base price today is 271,550 yuan ($39,900) after subsidies.
The carmaker sold more than 11,000 cars, mostly Model 3s, in China in August.
Besides, Tesla is constructing a new facility in Shanghai to make Model Y crossovers. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2021.
Source: Automotive News