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May 7, 2015

Tesla Batteries Already 'Sold Out' Through Mid-2016

During Tesla Motors’ (NASDAQ:TSLA) first-quarter conference call on Wednesday, there was still plenty of excitement over the company’s recent announcement of its new suite of rechargeable batteries.
While the electric vehicle manufacturer put out 11,160 vehicles in Q1 to beat its guidance by 10 percent, Tesla’s new battery business was also a big focus for many who asked questions on the call.
CEO Elon Musk stated that response to the battery announcement has been “crazy off the hook,” with 38,000 reservations for the Powerwall and 2,500 reservations for the higher-capacity Powerpack. Since Powerpacks are meant to be used by utilities or for heavy industrial uses, Musk noted that each reservation is likely for at least 10 units, while those reserving Powerwalls have probably been asking for more than one unit as well.
“There’s no way that we can possibly satisfy this demand this year,” Musk said. “We’re basically sold out through the middle of next year, in the first week.”
While there was still plenty of talk over Tesla’s financial performance and the rollout of its new Model X vehicles, Tesla Energy has certainly stolen the spotlight for now. Here are a few more highlights from Wednesday’s call:
  • Increasing capacity? —- “Given the very high demand that we’re seeing for Tesla Energy products, we’re actually trying to figure out if we can go from our current production target … in our Nevada plant to maybe 50 percent more than that, or even higher,” Musk said. “The sheer volume of demand here is just staggering. We could easily have the entire gigafactory just do stationary storage.”
  • Enter manganese —- While many expect Tesla to use a NCA (nickel-cobalt-aluminum oxide) cathode in its new suite of batteries, that won’t necessarily be the case. Musk noted that there are two distinct applications for the batteries —- backup power and daily cycling —- each of which have very different chemistries. “The backup-power chemistry is quite similar to the car, which is like a nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode. The daily cycling … is nickel-manganese-cobalt, so there’s quite a lot of manganese in there.”
  • SolarCity (NASDAQ:SCTY) rejection —- SolarCity has said that it will not use the 7-kilowatt-hour Powerwall model, which is optimized for daily cycling, and Musk agrees that using the battery would be more expensive than utilities in the US, at least in most cases. However, he added that the battery makes more sense in other regions, such as Europe.
  • Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) —- Another interesting point that’s gained traction is Musk’s response to questions about Apple entering the electric vehicle business. The CEO stated that he would welcome Apple’s participation in the sector, but when asked whether he is worried about engineers at Tesla being poached by Apple, said he isn’t worried. In fact, he suggested Tesla has recruited something like five times the amount of people from Apple as Apple has taken from Tesla within the past year or so.
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