Ultra-performance $140,000 Plaid models and fancy self-driving tech are cool (and certainly what brings all the fanboys to Tesla’s yard,) but I think that the only way electric cars will ever have a shot at replacing the combustion engine in a major way is to bring the price way down. Fortunately, it seems Tesla CEO Elon Musk also knows this and he’s “confident” that the electric car company can build a $25,000 electric vehicle in the next few years.
At Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting andevent, Musk and Drew Baglino, Tesla SVP Powertrain and Energy Engineering, outlined an extensive plan to reduce the cost of battery and electric vehicle manufacturing with changes to nearly every part of how Tesla builds cars.
Tesla estimates a 14-percent reduction in cost-per-kilowatt-hour can be achieved with its new “biscuit-tin” battery cell design and a further 18-percent from it new smaller, more efficient “Terafactory” manufacturing design. By streamlining how the batteries are put together, Tesla estimates that it will be able to manufacture 100 gigawatt-hours worth of battery capacity by 2022 — that’s on top of the cells that it buys from suppliers LG and Panasonic — stretching to 3,000 GWh (three TERAWATT hours) of production capacity by 2030.
Further gains from new silicon anode chemistry, innovations in lithium recycling and nickel cathode chemistry and a new “structural battery construction” technique — which also leads to a lighter, stiffer EV chassis — add up to an estimated 56-percent total reduction in cost-per-kilowatt hour. The benefit is an estimated 54-percent increase in vehicle range from the same energy capacity and lower manufacturing cost. Musk and Co. are sure that they can pass that cost onto the consumer.
“What does this mean for our future products? We’re confident that long term we can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle,” Musk stated to the honking applause of his socially distanced audience, each viewing the presentation drive-in style in individual— the automaker’s current approximately $38,000 affordable electric sedan.
“Our first car was an expensive sports car and then a slightly less expensive sedan and then the mass market premium Model 3 and Model Y,” continued Musk. “But in the early years, it was always our goal to make an affordable electric car. I think probably in about three years from now we can make a very compelling $25,000 electric vehicle that’s also fully autonomous.”
This is maybe not the most bombastic claim that Elon has made (or the most controversial), but the impending arrival of EVs with usable range and compelling value is probably the most exciting bit of news today for fans at the intersection of affordable cars and of electric ones. During the course of his presentation, Musk also stated a goal of eventually building 20M cars per year — a number derived from a desire to replace “a least one-percent of the total [ICE] vehicle fleet on Earth.”
Of course, Musk then capped off the show with a sizzle reel highlighting the ultra-performance Model S Plaid’s “beyond Ludicrous” track time at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. I suppose you’ve gotta finish with a bang.