Tesla has laid out plans for its secretive “Roadrunner” project to make batteries at a location near its Fremont gigafactory in California, that will see it make cathodes and assemble batteries at a site previously used by Solar City.
The news comes hot on the heels of a “tentative” September 15 date for the upcoming Battery Day, that has been delayed several times since the start of 2020.
The emergence of the documents, that were first submitted to the City of Fremont in March, confirm other reports that the EV maker has been planning to make its own battery cells.
In May, chair of Tesla’s Chinese battery partner CATL, Yuqun Zeng, told China Daily that Tesla had told him it was planning to make its own batteries as reported by The Driven, and a pilot battery cell line in Fremont and a larger “Roadrunner” project have also been reported on by Electrek .
Now, it has been revealed that Tesla’s plan to make its own batteries encapsulates developing a 37,635 square metre site on the corner of Page and Kato roads in Fremont that Solar City had previously used to develop and manufacture solar panels.
In an environmental checklist submitted by the City of Fremont community development department, Tesla outlines its plans to make batteries 24 hours a day, including 400 employees that “will work in shifts, such that there are 100 employees working at manufacturing and production operations at any given time, all day, every day.”
An additional 70 employees will work standard working hour days in research and development and other manufacturing related functions.
The details that state the Roadrunner project will entail “a portion of cathode electrode manufacturing and the final process step in battery cell manufacturing” is significant, as it indicates that Tesla will likely be using the site to manufacture the “million-mile battery”.
The million-mile battery, details of which are expected at the upcoming Battery Day, will use single crystal cathode processes outlined by a patent submitted by Tesla’s battery research team headed by Dalhousie academic Jeff Dahn – for more information on the importance of this you can read here.
It is understood that the acquisition of Maxwell Batteries, which has been developing dry cell and ultra capacitor technologies, may also play a role in the new battery production lines planned by Tesla.
The documents also confirm that Tesla already has “a small-scale battery manufacturing facility in the Kato building”, suggesting that it has been testing out its new processes prior to the installation of a high-volume production facility – an absolute necessity if Tesla is to avoid the “Osborne” effect as pointed out by battery veteran Jack Rickard.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.