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Tesla Tweaks Battery Plans in Germany

Company envisions in-house battery production at all its vehicle assembly plants
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Tesla reiterates that it will make batteries—sooner or later—at the vehicle assembly plant it’s building outside Berlin.

Rendering of Tesla’s German assembly plant (Image: Tesla)

In July, the Tesla suspended plans to include initial cell and battery production at the factory outside Gruenheide. Documents filed at the time indicated the company intended accordingly to lower the height of the facility’s main assembly hall by 21 feet.

Fluid Timetable

Now, Tesla is reemphasizing that the complex one day will include cell and battery production. Tesla notes that adding such capability will require a separate approval process, and the company still isn’t saying when that might happen.

Meanwhile, the complex is on schedule to open next summer with initial capacity to assemble as many as 100,000 vehicles. Output will be split equally between Tesla’s Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover. The company says the German facility eventually could expand to make 500,000 EVs annually.

Local regulators are expected to formally approve plans for the project, where construction is well underway, by the end of this year, Reuters reports.

Planning on the Fly

Back-and-forthing about production is routine for Tesla, particularly when it comes to battery assembly.

The company has at some point said all three of its assembly plants would make batteries. It just got around to launching pilot production for its next-generation batteries at its home plant in Fremont, Calif. Tesla hasn’t said when it will add battery assembly in China at the assembly plant it opened in Shanghai in January.

CEO Elon Musk outlined the company’s plans to make far more powerful batteries than the ones it uses now during Tesla’s “Battery Day” event on Sept. 22.

The new design will significantly boast energy capacity and vehicle range at half the cost, according to the company. But Musk says the new battery won’t go into full-volume production for three years. By then, he says, Tesla should be able to produce an EV model that retails for only $25,000.

What’s Next?

Musk predicts that Tesla’s annual battery output will reach a whopping 3 terawatt-hours—85 times the throughput of the battery “gigafactory” it operates outside Reno, Nev.—by about 2023.

That’s a very ambitious goal. To get there, Tesla will need high-volume battery production at all its vehicle assembly plants, and then some.

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