Tesla CEO Elon Musk is undoubtedly one of the industry's innovators. As he has been running the world's most valuable car manufacturer for 16 years. However, his actions clearly show that he is relying on the same development strategy for the company - he forges alliances with companies that develop technologies that Tesla lacks, learns from them, and then abandons them and accepts them as his partners. they don't want to take risks.
Now Musk and his team are preparing to take another step, which will make Tesla an independent outsourcing company. The upcoming Battery Day event will showcase new technologies for producing cheap and durable batteries. Thanks to them, the brand's electric vehicles will be able to compete on price with cheaper gasoline cars.
New battery designs, composition and manufacturing processes are just a few of the developments that will allow Tesla to reduce its dependence on its longtime partner Panasonic, those familiar with Musk's intentions say. Among them is a former top manager who wished to remain anonymous. He is adamant that Elon has always strived for one thing - so that no part of his business depends on anyone. Sometimes this strategy is successful, and sometimes it brings losses to the company.
Tesla is currently partnering with Japan's Panasonic, South Korea's LG Chem and China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) on battery development, all of which will continue to work. But at the same time, this is Musk, taking full control of the production of battery cells, which are a key component of batteries for electric vehicles. It will take place at Tesla's factories in Berlin, Germany, which are still under construction, and in Fremont, USA, where Tesla has already hired dozens of experts in the field.
“There is no change in our relationship with Tesla. Our connection remains stable as we are not a Tesla battery supplier, but a partner. This will continue to create innovations that will improve our product, ”commented Panasonic.
Since taking office in the company in 2004, Musk's goal has been to learn enough — from partnerships, acquisitions, and hiring talented engineers. Then he transferred all the key technologies under Tesla's control with the aim of building a work scheme to control everything from the extraction of the necessary raw materials to the final production. Ford did something similar with the Model A in the 20s.
“Elon believes he can improve everything that suppliers do. He believes Tesla can do everything on its own. Tell him that something is wrong and he immediately decides to do it, ”commented former CEO Tom Messner, who now runs a consulting firm.
Naturally, this approach applies mainly to batteries, and Tesla's goal is to make them yourself. Back in May, Reuters reported that Musk's company was planning to introduce cheap batteries that were designed for distances of up to 1,6 million kilometers. What's more, Tesla is working to directly supply the basic materials needed to make them. They are quite expensive, which is why the company is developing a new type of cellular chemicals, the use of which will significantly reduce their cost. New highly automated manufacturing processes will also help to speed up production.
The Mask's approach isn't limited to batteries. At a time when Daimler was one of the first investors in Tesla, the head of the American company was actively interested in the technology of the German automaker. Among them were sensors that help keep the car in the lane. Engineers Mercedes-Benz helped integrate these sensors, as well as cameras, into the Tesla Model S, which until now had no such technology. For this, software from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class was used.
“He found out about it and did not hesitate to take a step forward. We asked our engineers to shoot at the moon, but Musk headed straight for Mars. “, Says a senior Daimler engineer who is working on the project.
At the same time, cooperation with another first Tesla investor, the Japanese Toyota Group, taught Musk one of the most important areas of the modern automotive industry - quality management. Something more - his company attracted executives from Daimler, Toyota, Ford, BMW and Audiand talented people from Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who have made significant contributions to Tesla's development.
However, not all relationships ended well. In 2014, Tesla signed a contract with Israeli sensor manufacturer Mobileye to learn how to design a self-driving system. It became the basis for the autopilot of the American electric vehicle manufacturer.
Turns out Mobileye is the driving force behind Tesla's original autopilot. The two companies fell apart in a 2016 scandal in which a Model S driver died in an accident while his car was on autopilot. Then the president of the Israeli company, Amon Shashua, said that the system is not designed to cover all possible situations in accidents, since it serves to assist the driver. He directly accused Tesla of abusing this technology.
After parting with the Israeli company, Tesla signed a contract with the American company Nvidia to develop an autopilot, but a split soon followed. And the reason was that Musk wanted to create his own software for his cars so as not to depend on Nvidia, but still use some of your partner's technology.
Over the past 4 years, Elon has continued to acquire high-tech companies. He acquired little-known companies such as Grohmann, Perbix, Riviera, Compass, Hibar Systems, which helped Tesla develop automation. Added to this are Maxwell and SilLion, who are developing battery technology.
“Musk learned a lot from these people. He extracted as much information as possible, then went back and made Tesla an even better company. This approach is at the heart of his success, ”said Mark Ellis, senior consultant at Munro & Associates who has studied Tesla for many years. And thus largely explains why the Musk company is in this place at the moment.