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Lux: Tesla likely to miss 2020 vehicle target by >50%; Gigafactory to bring only modest reduction in costs, >50% overcapacity

Lux Research forecasts that Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory—the announced new 35 GWh lithium-ion cell production facility that is the target of hot competition between five states (earlier post)—will bring about only a modest reduction in Li-ion battery costs and create significant overcapacity, given likely Tesla EV sales in 2020 of less than half of the company’s targeted 500,000.

Tesla and its partner, Panasonic, will contribute about 45% and 35%, respectively, of the initial $4 billion required to build the Gigafactory, proposed to go on-stream in 2017. Lux Research’s new report—“The Tesla-Panasonic Battery Gigafactory: Analysis of Li-ion Cost Trends, EV Price Reduction, and Capacity Utilization”—projects sales of some 240,000 Tesla cars in 2020, leading to razor-thin margins to Panasonic and 57% overcapacity.

The Gigafactory will only reduce the Tesla Model 3’s cost by $2,800, not enough to sway the success of the planned lower-cost EV. Besides, Lux’s analysis reveals significant overcapacity because Tesla will miss its ambitious target of half a million.

—Dr. Cosmin Laslau, Lux Research Analyst and lead author

As a counterpoint, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache on 11 August upgraded the rating for Tesla stock from “Hold” to “Buy” in consideration of the company’s possibly reaching the 1.0 million cars per year mark by the year 2025.

Lux Research evaluated Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory plan and its consequences for the EV industry. Among the findings:

  • Cost-cutting is key, but the Gigafactory does not do enough. Battery prices need to fall significantly for plug-in cars to break beyond their current niche. The OEMs backing the US Advanced Battery Consortium are targeting $125/kWh by 2020—more than four times lower than $520/kWh, the price Ford paid for its Focus EV battery packs. Currently, Tesla has the lowest cost—about $274/kWh, according to Lux Research analysis. Tesla founder Elon Musk aims to cut cost by 30%, on the strength of scale, location and technology, lowering the price to $196/kWh with the Gigafactory.

  • Panasonic faces risks. The Gigafactory might seem like a great win for Panasonic, ahead of rivals such as Samsung SDI, LG Chem, and NEC; in the optimistic scenario of Tesla attaining its targeted half a million EVs, Panasonic could pull in more than $15 billion between 2017 and 2020. But at the more likely 240,000 EVs, as estimated by Lux Research, Panasonic would take in only $7 billion on its likely investment of $1.4 billion, with questionable margins.

  • Gigafactory will lead to huge overcapacity. The Gigafactory, proposed to be built at a cost of $5 billion, is designed to make 35 GWh Li-ion cells for half a million EVs. But in the likely event of much lower sales of 240,000, overcapacity will be to the extent of 20 GWh. This 57% overcapacity is unlikely to be filled either by rival carmakers or Tesla’s own plans to sell some stationary battery packs to developers such as SolarCity (Tesla’s Elon Musk is chairman) for residential photovoltaic integration and other uses.

The report is part of the Lux Research Energy Storage Intelligence service.

Comments

Robert Fahey

Another armchair expert who knows more than Tesla about Tesla's forte. http://teslamondo.com/2014/09/03/lux-research-not-buying-gigafactory/

HarveyD

The Gigafactory could be built in 2 or 3 phases to better match market growth and technology evolution.

1. Phase 1 could be ready for 2017 @ $195 kWh.

2. Phase 2 could be ready for 2022 @ $130 kWh

3. Phase 3 could be ready for 2027 @ $85 kWh

Each phase could produce a progressively improved technology, probably at a lower cost.

The preceding phase production could be phased out when the next phase as been debugged and in full production for a while.

Davemart

No criticism of Tesla is allowed on any grounds at all.

Keep the faith!

For me it is a toss up which I trust least, they are two great contenders.

Herman

Sorry, Davemart.

Here's to hoping there can be a Tesla discussion on an EV blog without manic ad hominem foolishness. Here goes...

First, I am a Tesla long, and I have been since the financing round to retire their DoE Loan. I did NOT buy the stock because I bought into the totality of their story. I found it a generally unrealistic business strategy, and still do. But any company teetering on the edge of insolvency that is able to capture wall-to-wall positive press and issue a large block of shares to pay off a loan (for which it had received several charitable terms adjustments, etc.) AND have their share value shoot upward is a rare phenomenon. TSLA was (and remains) in a sweet spot of public success and largely arcane shortfalls (e.g., warranty expense). Undying support from a well-heeled customer base mirrors their "ethical" luxury purchases with discretionary investment. The market magnetism of Elon Musk is a further catalyst. I've sold most of the purchase, but with a cost basis in the high $80's it was the right choice. Additional income from lending out shares for shorting last year and selling covered calls for the past few months has made it even better. These are once-in-a-lifetime events. So, PLEASE let's not get into the “paid hedge fund shill” crap, OK?

The GF schedule is fairly opaque right now. Based on past Tesla's history of projections vs. results, the 2017 “operational” date will be a single set of functioning cells at EoY17. Moreover they just do not have sufficient cash to reach this point AND make good on the Convertible Note payments coming due in 2018. The $2.5B or so cash on hand at the end of Q2 was money raised from last year's bond issue plus the overallotment. The company produces only modest cash from Operations and even then when they do it reflects (a) a surge of deliveries and a very big lump of Payables – e.g., delay payments to suppliers until the first day of the next Q – and (b) reservation payments. Don't get me wrong: everybody does some version of (a), and (b) is a good thing, but it's nowhere nearly a sustainable picture. Tesla's cash on hand is all loans, and I'd challenge the logic behind sufficient raises to keep the “Model 3 in 2017” schedule, much less the GF. And remember: it is ALL fueled by share price, which was the reason why people would lend the company money at 0.25 to 1%.

Tesla's last R&D spend is the largest ever with no hint of Model 3 work, and moreover essentially none of it spent on contracted R&D projects. Capital was $175M with perhaps single digit $M spent prepping potential GF sites. And Panasonic's actual committed spend in the agreement is only about $200M. Although impulsive and occasionally reckless in his remarks, Musk has been careful in projecting GF savings, holding out 30% as a TARGET. There is NO WAY this objective will be reached before 2019-20.

Will they successfully hold another raise? Probably: I wouldn't still have a couple of hundred shares if I didn't think so. And note holders need to keep the share price up (BTW, they're not dumb: many protect themselves with short positions). But I have a sell order in place at $297. Stifel's upgrade yesterday was about as much a shrug and a “what the hell, it doesn't make sense but you should go along” recommendation as any I've ever seen. That's been my approach and it's almost time to step off the train. If the share price tanks below $180 for a sustained period, the financing train tanks, and the whole thing goes away.

Nick Lyons

There exists no guarantee that Tesla will succeed in making it to the next level, as much as many people wish/expect that they will. I see many ways that Tesla might fail, and their ongoing success depends on future developments that may not pan out in time. As a long-time stock market investor, I would rate their stock as highly speculative. I'm sorry I didn't get in at the beginning, but am certainly not buying now.

Davemart

I am not sure where you saw the ad hominem, Herman.

I replied to a post with no concrete argument merely a reference to 'armchair critics' with a like-minded retort.

For the rest, your attitude does not seem to differ significantly from mine.

I love a lot of Tesla' engineering, and detest a lot of their spin and loose financial statements, and even more the wide-eyed claims of some enthusiasts.

There is absolutely no doubt however that the Tesla S is a remarkable achievement, and not one I thought they would pull off.

Herman

Davemart, my comment looked like it was aimed at you and it wasn't. My poor syntax, to be sure.

I absolutely knew your comment "no criticism of Tesla is allowed on any grounds at all" was intended as a light way to say let's not get in any fights here. Understood. My "sorry Davemart" was aimed as a warning to you that your desire for pleasant banter might be sidetracked if a member of the Church of Tesla (who worship Elon Musk as the Living God) might wonder in.

As an aside if you have not had the chance to motor about in a Model S, you should try to find the opportunity. It is a VERY pleasant car. I think the seats are terrible compared to its peers, and some of the appointments (e.g., carpeting, headliner) are no better than a Focus, but it is nonetheless exceptional. SO much better execution than the Roadster, which is really just a toy.

Davemart

No worries, Herman.
The Tesla is way out of my league, and if I were driving something that big on the streets of Bristol, England, I would want to be selling bus tickets!
I sure would find it inconvenient to park anywhere save in a bus layby! ;-)

Alan Parker

DaveMart, you seem to be slowly but surely morphing into an anti-EV troll.

Herman

... and here we go.

Davemart

Talking about ad hominem,
H-E-R-E'S A-L-A-N !!!

electric-car-insider.com

Arguments directed at the topic at hand are a lot more persuasive than jabs and gibes.

kelly

There are PLENTY of quality 18650 format li-ion cell uses and grid storage wasn't even mentioned.

It may be Musk hyperbola to speak of 100's of battery giga factories soon, but the first one.

sd

I have no idea if Lux knows what they are talking about or not. I have not taken a Tesla Model S out for a test drive It looks like a nice vehicle but is not what I currently need. I do hope that Tesla makes it in the market place but I would not buy their stock as there is no way that their current market capitalization of $35.4B (number of outstanding shares * share price) makes sense when Ford has a maket cap of $68.3B and GM is $55.8B. Tesla as a company is just not worth half of Ford or 5/8s of GM despite what you might think of Ford or GM.

By the way, I am not an anti-EV troll and worked on an Electric Vehicle as far back as 1968 when I was a grad student at MIT.

SJC

"Tesla EV sales in 2020 of less than half of the company’s targeted 500,000."

If they go from 35,000 units to 500,000 in 6 years, I would be impressed.

electric-car-insider.com

sd, if you are on the west coast, I invite you to take mine out for a spin, as my personal guest. I host meet-ups called Electric Car Guest Drive and will attend various National Drive Electric Week events later this month.

chris@...

Jeffgreen54

((((If they go from 35,000 units to 500,000 in 6 years, I would be impressed. )))))


If they went from 35,000 to 250,000 in 6 years, I would be impressed. A nearly 10 fold increase every 6 years would be incredible. Even just twice and they are the shining star on the earth.

Patrick Free

It would be extremely easy for Tesla to multiply their sales if they wish. They just need to add a 40KWH model X with a powerful Pure Generator ICE range extender put in front trunk and in Europe they could multiply their sales 10X...
Their current radicalism prevents that, and they expect the 500M battery to come real soom after they build their Gigafactory and they Supercharger network to expand real fast making PHEV useless when that will have all happened... But if it was to take a lot more time for any reason, the PHEV option could multiply 10x their volumes and market share. Or they could sell these smaller PHEV minded battery packs to German competitors to get to same point for Gigafactory production w/o moving away from their all electric radical approach.... Either way it will work for me waiting for a PHEV SUV of at least 30KWH with a solid range extender that I could take on far away vacations before Tesla has time to deploy their Superchargers down to my south Europe vacation places...which will take ages.

citizen

I agree with Patrick regarding the range extender. Including one reduces the amount of batteries required, gets rid of range anxiety, and gets rid of the need for all those charging stations.

The other piece of the puzzle that needs solving is wireless charging. The general public will soon tire of having to unplug the car before every trip, then plug it back in at the end of the day.

electric-car-insider.com

> public will soon tire of having to unplug the car before every trip, then plug it back in

most people find it is far easier, and far more convenient, than driving to a gas station and plugging in to a smelly, carcinogenic liquid fuel pump.

Those who don't can purchase an aftermarket wireless charging system today. Several OEMs will offer the option soon.

Tesla will not offer an ICE, they've been very open about why.

Herman

e-c-i: I agree that while wireless would be nice, I have no beef with handling my Clipper Creek "nozzle" twice a day.

My big question is: what is the financial model for mass public installation of charging stations. While I missed the run-up of Tesla to the high 80's, I made good money shorting both ECTY (now bk) and CCGI (very soon). I think it pretty much becomes a utility business solution.

BTW: your offer to sd for EV Guest Drive: very classy. Hats off to you.

Engineer-Poet
The general public will soon tire of having to unplug the car before every trip, then plug it back in at the end of the day.
most people find it is far easier, and far more convenient, than driving to a gas station and plugging in to a smelly, carcinogenic liquid fuel pump.

My experience also.  I'd bet that the vast majority of people who think the public won't deal with a plug have never done it.

kalendjay

I read above that five states are competing for the Tesla plant.

With how many Benjamins in the state coffers?

Enough said.

electric-car-insider.com

Thank you Herman.

For anyone else interested, I'll be giving drives all over California (San Diego to Santa Rosa) during the National Drive Electric Week Sept 13-21 in the Tesla Model S, Fiat 500e and Ford Focus Electric. And answering any question anyone wants to know about the ownership experience; both good and bad. (there's not much bad, but I'll tell it like it is re limitations, repair record, etc).

I'll also be doing show and tell and answering questions about the EVSE I have personal experience with: Aerovironment, Clipper Creek, EvoReel, OpenEVSE and Schneider.

I even have extra room if anyone wants to experience a road trip between cities using the Supercharger network. You can drive, or ride.

chris@...

gorr

Last year I predicted that tesla will go bankrupt, now I think that their market will shrink a little and they will have big problems staying afloat. The idea of producing batteries for stationary power might open new production market but I won't invest..

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