Elon Musk Tips Tesla, BMW Battery Talks

25 Nov 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 surprising things Elon Musk has said.

Germany’s BMW uses carbon fiber materials from its joint venture with SGL Group for parts of its i3 electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.

A future where the electric car is ubiquitous cannot be built by one company alone, regardless of the hype around Tesla and its progress in consumer automotive space.Tesla Motors’ (TSLA) Elon Musk told a German magazine that the upstart automaker is in talks with German automaker BMW in regards to a possible battery and car-part partnership.Elon Musk has given the world rockets and electric cars, solar panels and electronic payments, but perhaps more than anything he has given us plenty of reasons to go, “Huh?” It’s the type of straight talk you might not expect from a CEO — and Musk is the CEO of two companies, Tesla Motors Inc. Tesla chief Elon Musk finds the production of those parts “interesting,” and “relatively cost efficient,” according to Reuters, which cited a report from Germany’s Der Spiegel. That’s why it’s exciting to hear from Elon Musk himself about talks between BMW and Tesla, even if they’re only informal, around potential collaboration on battery and charger technology.

In an interview published on Sunday, Musk described BMW’s production of carbon fibre reinforced car body parts as “interesting” and “relatively cost efficient.” Investors aren’t sure what to make of the chatter, however. Don’t get too excited, as the talks are still informal, but Reuters notes that Tesla and BMW executives met earlier this year to talk about how charging stations could service different types of electric cars. A Tesla spokeswoman, however, told us that discussions between the car makers have been “casual conversations.” No further details of a possible partnership were revealed, though Musk told the German news site that he hopes to have a battery production plant built in Germany by 2020. Until then, Tesla’s focus is on Nevada, where the company will build its first large-scale Gigafactory—a $5 billion workshop that will employ 6,500 workers and produce 500,000 lithium-ion battery cells annually over the next six years. Daimler, owner of the Mercedes brand, said last month it would continue to collaborate with Tesla even after selling its remaining four percent stake in the U.S. company.

Construction is slated to begin later this year; the 10-million-square-foot plant should be running by 2017, when Tesla plans to introduce its $35,000 Model 3 electric vehicle. BMW employs carbon fibres in the chassis construction for these vehicles, which makes for more lightweight vehicles overall, which in turn means batteries can drive the cars for longer without requiring a recharge. While Tesla will do the heavy lifting at the site—preparing, providing, and managing the land, buildings, and utilities—Panasonic will step in to manufacture and supply the all-important cylindrical lithium-ion cells. While it’s early days yet to say for certain that these two will work together in any kind of formal partnership, it’s a good sign for those hopeful about the future of EVs.

A fragmented, proprietary market where manufacturers focus on their own tech to the exclusion of others doesn’t really help anyone in the long term, beside the entrenched fossil fuel interests. Tesla shares hit a record closing high of $286.04 that day, but fell 3% the following session after the “kinda high” comment, their biggest stumble in two months.

But not everyone is in Tesla’s corner: Musk last week wrote a blog post defending its decision to build in Nevada—”the entertainment capital of the world, home to the most sophisticated casinos on Earth,” he said. Musk also commented on the company’s partnership with Mercedes, and said a working collaboration will continue despite Mercedes’ recent sell-off of its Tesla stake. Musk told Aeon magazine that we must colonize Mars, a la the movie “Interstellar,” should something catastrophic happen to Earth — which he, in fact, cares a great deal about. Citing recent articles that said Tesla pushed the state into providing a large incentive package, Musk pointed to unanimous approval from the Nevada Senate and House, and a debt ratings assessment that found the deal to be credit positive for Reno and Nevada. “The reason is that it is a no-lose proposition for the state,” Musk wrote. “The deal is not merely slightly good for the people of Nevada, it is extremely good.” Nevada did not cut Tesla a billion-dollar check, but instead made a swap for some land, which Musk points out “is not in short supply” in the state.

He also expressed confusion at Toyota’s recent decision to pursue fuel cell vehicle technology, noting that a fuel cell-powered car consumers three times as much energy overall when compared to an equivalent, battery-powered vehicle. In fact, state incentives initially cover about 5 percent; over a 20-year period, government subsidies cost just more than 1 percent of the estimated $100 billion in operation and upgrade costs. “It stands to reason that the beneficiaries of a project should also contribute to its creation,” Musk said. “Given that Nevada will have the largest and most advanced battery factory in the world and a very large number of high-paying direct and indirect jobs, contributing about 5 percent to the initial construction cost and a few percent to costs thereafter seems pretty fair.” Meanwhile, Musk had a rather busy weekend, taking time out from debating tax policy to show off new rockets for his other high-tech endeavor, SpaceX.

If a superintelligent machine tasked with getting rid of spam, for example, decides that the best way to do so is to get rid of humans, humanity could be toast, Musk said. During Tesla’s third-quarter conference call, an analyst asked how the Model X — the falcon-winged SUV scheduled for release in the second half of 2015 — fits into Tesla’s grander plans, since the Model 3, an electric car for the masses, is believed to be the real game changer. Musk told PandoDaily in 2012 that he was driving on Sand Hill Road, the Menlo Park road known as venture capital’s address of choice, with Thiel in the passenger seat as the two traveled to a meting with an early PayPal backer.

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