Days after Tesla CEO Elon Musk set the date for the company’s Battery Day, it’s been revealed the EV maker wants to build a battery research and manufacturing center at its Fremont, California plant.
The plan, which is code named Roadrunner, came to light when the company applied to the city to gain the necessary approvals for the project, Reuters reported.
Musk, who recently angrily threatened to pull all of the company’s operations from the state, has been pushing the company toward producing its own batteries for some time now. The company, which already has a small battery production operation at the Fremont facility wants to expand production there.
The new battery operation comes as the company is in the process of selecting a new site for its next Gigafactory. Tesla’s rumored to have settled on a site just outside of Austin, Texas for the next plant, but the company hasn’t confirmed that although has said Texas is in the running for the new plant.
The new gigafactory was slated to build batteries and perhaps the company’s Cybertruck. Musk said earlier this year that one of the problems the company was facing when it came to getting the Cybertruck and Semi truck to the market is the number of battery cells required for the vehicles.
Each of those requires more cells, which means fewer for the company’s hot-selling Model 3 and newly introduced Model Y. Musk has noted the company will make its own batteries in the near future and has some impressive new technology. He’s declined to comment further on it, but Battery Day, which is Sept. 15, is designed to shed some light on the company’s progress toward that goal.
The Fremont battery facility comes as a bit of a surprise with the aforementioned thought the new Gigafactory would begin to meet the needs of the company’s truck line-up. However, with Musk’s recent push to accelerate the production timeframe for the Semi may mean the company needs more batteries sooner.
In the applications to the city, the company predicted it would take three months to build and have the new operation up and running. It would employ 470 employees, 400 of which would “work in shifts, such that there are 100 employees working at manufacturing and production operations at any given time, all day, every day,” Reuters reported.
Currently Tesla produces batteries with Japan’s Panasonic Corp. at the Gigafactory near Reno, Nevada. It also has battery contracts with South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd.
The deal with CATL calls for it produce lithium-iron-phosphate, or LFP, batteries for its China-produced Model 3 sedans. Typically, the EV maker uses nickel-cobalt-aluminum cells for its vehicles. The move to LFP batteries will reduce costs, they are about 20% less expensive overall. Additionally, the batteries last longer and can be charged and discharged at higher power levels making them more durable. They also handle heat better than the other batteries.