Elon Musk Went “Straight For Mars”: Tesla Chief’s Go-It-Alone Technique


    Elon Musk Went 'Straight For Mars': Tesla Chief's Go-It-Alone Strategy

    Elon Musk has actually been dropping tips for months that significant advances in technology will be revealed.

    Elon Musk is hailed as an innovator and disruptor who went from understanding next to nothing about constructing cars and trucks to running the world’s most valuable car manufacturer in the area of 16 years.

    However his record shows he is more of a quick student who forged alliances with companies that had technology Tesla did not have, worked with a few of their most gifted people, and then powered through the boundaries that restricted more risk-averse partners.

    Now, Musk and his team are preparing to detail new actions in Tesla’s drive to become a more self-sufficient company less reliant on suppliers at its “Battery Day” occasion on September 22.

    Musk has been dropping hints for months that substantial advances in innovation will be announced as Tesla makes every effort to produce the low-cost, long-lasting batteries that could put its electric vehicles on a more equal footing with cheaper gasoline automobiles.

    New battery cell designs, chemistries and manufacturing processes are just some of the developments that would enable Tesla to reduce its dependence on its long-time battery partner, Japan’s Panasonic, people familiar with the situation said.

    ” Elon doesn’t want any part of his company to be based on another person,” stated one previous senior executive at Tesla who decreased to be named. “And for much better or worse – in some cases better, in some cases even worse – he believes he can do it better, faster and cheaper.”

    Tesla has battery production partnerships with Panasonic, South Korea’s LG Chem and China’s Contemporary Amperex Innovation Co Ltd (CATL) that are anticipated to continue.


    ” Tesla Street” indication outside the construction website of the future Tesla Gigafactory, near Berlin, Germany.

    But at the exact same time, Tesla is moving to manage production of cells – the basic part of electric automobile battery loads – at highly automated factories, consisting of one being developed near Berlin, Germany and another in Fremont, California where Tesla is working with lots of experts in battery cell engineering and production.

    ” There has actually been no modification in our relationship with Tesla,” Panasonic stated in a declaration provided by a company spokeswoman.

    ” Our relationship, both past and present has actually been sound. Panasonic is not a supplier to Tesla; we are partners. There’s no doubt our collaboration will continue to innovate and contribute to the betterment of society.”

    Tesla did not react instantly to an ask for remark.


    Since he took control of the recently established business in 2004, Musk’s goal has been to discover adequate – from partnerships, acquisitions and talent recruitment – to bring key innovations under Tesla’s control, individuals familiar with Tesla’s strategy said.

    They said the goal was to construct a greatly vertically integrated company, or a digital variation of Ford Motor Co’s iron-ore-to-Model-A production system of the late 1920 s.

    ” Elon thought he could improve on everything the providers did – everything,” said previous Tesla supply chain executive Tom Wessner, who is now head of industry consultancy Imprint Advisors. “He wanted to make everything.”

    Batteries, a big chunk of the cost of an electrical vehicle, are main to the Musk technique. While subordinates have argued for years versus developing exclusive Tesla battery cells, Musk continues to drive towards that goal.

    ” Tell him ‘No’, and after that he really wants to do it,” stated a 3rd previous Tesla veteran.

    The modifications in battery design, chemistry and production processes Tesla expects to expose next week are targeted at revamping the math that previously has made electrical cars and trucks more costly than carbon-emitting vehicles with combustion engines.

    Reuters reported in Might that Tesla is planning to reveal low-priced batteries developed to last for a million miles. Tesla is likewise working to protect direct supplies of crucial battery products, such as nickel, while developing cell chemistries that would no longer need expensive cobalt in addition to highly automated production procedures to speed up production.


    Panasonic is partnered with Tesla at the $5 billion Nevada “Gigafactory”, while CATL and LG Chem supply cells to Tesla’s Shanghai factory, where battery modules and packs are assembled for its Design 3 sedan.

    Panasonic just recently said it is planning to broaden its production lines in Nevada, which provide the cells that then go into the battery modules assembled next door by Tesla.

    However the Nevada Gigafactory partnership practically didn’t happen, according to two former Tesla executives. Musk bought a team to study battery production in 2011, according to one previous executive, but ultimately partnered with Panasonic in 2013.

    Now, Tesla is testing a battery cell pilot manufacturing line in Fremont and is building its own vast automatic cell manufacturing center in Gruenheide in Germany.

    The roller-coaster relationship with Panasonic mirrors other Tesla alliances.

    During its advancement alliance with Germany’s Daimler, which was an early investor in Tesla, Musk became thinking about sensing units that would assist keep cars and trucks within traffic lanes.

    Till then the Tesla Model S, which Mercedes-Benz engineers assisted refine, did not have cams or sophisticated driver help sensing units and software such as those used in the Mercedes S-Class.

    ” He learnt more about that and took it a step further. We asked our engineers to aim for the moon. He went directly for Mars,” said a senior Daimler engineer stated.

    On the other hand, an association with Japan’s Toyota, another early financier, taught him about quality management.

    Eventually, executives from Daimler and Toyota signed up with Tesla in key functions, in addition to skill from Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, as well as competing carmakers Ford, BMW and Audi.


    Some relationships did not end well.

    Tesla talked to Israeli sensor maker Mobileye in 2014, in part to find out how to develop a self-driving system that progressed into Tesla’s Auto-pilot.

    ” Mobileye was the driving force behind the original Auto-pilot,” said a previous Mobileye executive, who declined to be named.

    Mobileye, which is now owned by Intel, likewise recognized the risk of sharing innovation with a fast-moving start-up like Tesla, which was on the brink of collapse at the end of 2008 and now has a market price of $420 billion.

    However Tesla and Mobileye had an acrimonious and public split after a driver was killed in 2016 when a Design S using the Autopilot system crashed.

    At the time, Amnon Shashua, who is now Mobileye president and president, stated Tesla’s Auto-pilot was not designed to cover all possible crash scenarios as it was a driver assistance system, not a driverless system.

    US tech company Nvidia followed Mobileye as a supplier for Autopilot, but it too was eventually sidelined.

    ” Nvidia and Tesla share a typical strategy of establishing software-defined vehicles powered by high-performance AI computers. Elon is extremely concentrated on vertical integration and wanted to make his own chips,” said Nvidia’s senior director of automotive, Danny Shapiro.

    Both Shapiro and the previous Mobileye executive said there was no concern of Tesla poorly using their innovation.

    In addition to partnerships, Musk went on an acquisition spree four years back, purchasing a handful of little-known business – Grohmann, Perbix, Riviera, Compass, Hibar Systems – to quickly advance Tesla’s proficiency in automation. Maxwell and SilLion further improved Tesla’s capability in battery technology.

    ” He found out a lot from those individuals,” stated Mark Ellis, a senior consultant at Munro & Associates, which has actually studied Tesla thoroughly. “He leveraged a lot of information from them, then put his spin on making it better.”

    ( Other than for the heading, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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