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Another Tesla facility will go up in Austin, filings show

Project Cathode will be near the Gigafactory, filings show. (Tesla)

Tesla has submitted filings for "Project Cathode," which will reportedly be a facility for making the material in batteries that help power electric vehicles.

The filings say the “industrial use facility” will be close by to the automaker's southeast Travis County factory and company headquarters. Building its own batteries could mean a significant reduction in production costs for the automaker.

A cathode facility has been in the works for years now, and it's arriving at a time when the Austin factory is key to Tesla’s future. And the newest Gigafactory has ample space to carry out the 32-acre project, with its land near the Colorado River spanning more than 2,000 acres.

CEO Elon Musk has previously talked about expecting significant shortages of battery cells. He said even with cell suppliers like Panasonic, LG and CATL, “we still foresee significant shortages in 2022 & beyond unless we also take action ourselves.”

Early hints came during Tesla’s battery day presentation in 2020, when VP of engineering Drew Baglino talked about the facility, saying the automaker would start “leveraging all of the North American resources that exist for nickel and lithium.”

Baglino went on to talk about what that could mean for carrying out production efficiently.

“Just doing that, just localizing our cathode supply chain and production, we can reduce miles traveled by all the materials that end up in the cathode by 80%,” Baglino said.

Through deals with Piedmont Lithium and Talon Metals, Tesla has aimed for lithium and nickel from North American sources. Securing materials for batteries has become an increasingly competitive space as EV sales have surged in recent years.

Battery manufacturing equipment has already been deployed at Giga Texas with some already in operation, Tesla has said. The confirmation came in an update on its new 4680 battery cell. Another major update came on Battery Day, when a new cathode chemistry that streamlines production and makes it more affordable was unveiled.


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