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Tesla’s $5B Gigafactory at Full Tilt by 2020

by on Feb.26, 2014

Tesla's announced four states are finalists for the company's proposed gigafactory.

After teasing with a few small details last week, Tesla revealed more details on its proposed gigafactory that will provide lithium-ion batteries for its electric vehicles – and others? – for $30% less than what they cost now.

“The Gigafactory is designed to reduce cell costs much faster than the status quo and, by 2020, produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013,” the company declared in a blog post this afternoon.

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The plant is expected to cost between $4 billion and $5 billion, with Tesla kicking in $2 billion, the company said. Once running at full capacity in 2020, the plant is expected to produce more than 500,000 batteries, matching Tesla’s expected output of 500,000 vehicles. (more…)

LG Chem To Set Up Michigan Battery Plant

Will produce batteries for up to 200,000 electric vehicles.

by on Mar.12, 2010

The basic battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt will soon be produced in Michigan, not Korea.

Korea’s LG Chem will invest $303 million to set up a plant in Western Michigan to produce enough lithium-ion batteries to power as many as 200,000 electric vehicles annually.

The primary customer for the LIon technology will be General Motors, which last year chose LG Chem to provide batteries for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle, or E-REV, which GM plans to put into production this coming November.  But the size of the new plant, which will be built in Holland, Michigan, suggests LG could seek other customers, as well.

The announcement is significant for several reasons.  As part of the partnership they formed last year, GM and LG Chem set up a plant in suburban Detroit to assemble battery packs for the Volt, but the basic cells used in those packs have been coming from LG’s plants in the Far East.

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Until now, the bulk of lithium-ion production has been based in Asia, primarily Japan, China and South Korea.  But with the auto industry ramping up plans for new battery cars – and with the Obama Administration offerings billions of dollars in loans and grants – production is begin to expand in the United States.


“Breakthrough” Needed for Battery Cars

Study finds electric vehicles likely to remain niche through at least 2020.

by on Jan.07, 2010

The cost of the batteries in this prototype Volvo C30 would have to plunge from $20,000 to barely $5,000 to make the battery-electric vehicle competitive, warns a new study.

Without a battery breakthrough, electric vehicles are likely to remain little more than a niche segment in the global automotive market, according to a new study that also sees little likelihood this can happen during the coming decade.

Battery costs are coming down, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, but not nearly fast enough to make electric vehicles and plug-ins competitive with the time-tested internal combustion engine, or ICE, the report found.

“We need to have breakthroughs in fundamental battery chemistry,” declared Xavier Mosquet, leader of Boston Consulting’s automotive practice, during an appearance at the Automotive Press Association, on Thursday.

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That’s not to say batteries aren’t improving.  They’re getting smaller, lighter and more powerful.  And BCG’s study predicts that the cost of a typical lithium-ion battery will drop from more than $1,000 a kilowatt-hour today to somewhere around $400 by 2020.  But Mosquet stressed that to be competitive, prices need to fall even further, to “somewhere in the $200 to $250 range” per kWh.


THINK to Open EV Assembly Plant in Indiana

First battery cars to roll out in early 2011.

by on Jan.05, 2010

Think will launch production of the U.S. version of its City commuter car in early 2011.

Think will launch production of its City commuter car at a new U.S. plant in early 2011.

The small battery car maker, THINK, is heading back to the U.S., and this time, it plans to produce its electric vehicles at an all-new plant going up in Elkhart, Indiana.

THINK, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last year, plans to invest $43 million in the Midwest facility, and hopes to start production of its urban commuter car, the THINK City, during the first quarter of 2011.  When the facility reaches full capacity, in 2013, the maker hopes to be turning out as many as 20,000 battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, annually.

The schedule is “pretty aggressive,” acknowledged THINK CEO Richard Canny, during an interview with, “but the modular construction of the vehicle lets us get production up and running pretty quickly.  We’ll hit 70% local content by 2013,” he added, suggesting, “it will be local content equal to or higher than many of the Big Three models.”

Founded in Norway, THINK has ridden the proverbial roller-coaster during its two-decade existence.  It was purchased by Ford Motor Company, a decade ago, then sold off as part of the U.S. maker’s back-to-basics strategy.  That led it to abandon the U.S. market, in 2002.  Financial woes forced it into Chapter 11, but with rising industry interest in battery power, new investors came to the rescue last year.  That includes Ener1, Inc., which now owns a 31% stake in the BEV maker.

Ener1’s Indianapolis-based subsidiary, EnerDel, will now provide the new lithium-ion, or LIon, batteries for the THINK City.  That will allow the maker to boost range for the U.S. model to 100 miles, and increase the BEV’s top speed to at least 70 mph.  An imported version of the City will go on sale this year, before the Indiana plant gets up-and-running.

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Initially, Canny said the U.S. version of the THINK City will go for around $30,000, after factoring in a $7,500 federal tax credit.  But he told TheDetroitBureau that his battery costs are expected to drop by at least 7% annually, while other efficiencies will help reduce the cost of the City by 3 to 4%.  The goal, by mid-decade, would be to bring the price of the THINK City down, he said, to “the low-$20,000 range.”