Skip to main content

Tesla To Open New Battery Gigafactory In Texas: Project Cathode

With Austin Giga-Texas nearing completion, Tesla has begun the processes for a major new facility. Another, brand new Gigafactory for manufacturing cathodes, a key battery component.

While Tesla is widely known as a California company, as a matter of fact its main focus is now on Texas, as the company has officially moved its headquarters to the Lone Star State. The Austin Gigafactory is not only its new home, but it is also going to become the company's core center. With the plant about to open, Tesla has just submitted the documentation to build a second, attached facility; most sources and educated guesses believe for manufacturing battery cathodes.

According to online media sources Electrek and Reuters, Tesla has begun preparations for the construction of a second large factory next to the Austin plant. The request actually gives little information, but just enough to give an idea of what the objective of the plant will most probably be: with the name "Project Cathode", there have been many speculations skyrocketing, even though it couldn't be clearer.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

It is at this point that we have to look back and see what specific goals Tesla set back a not so long ago. On Battery Day 2020 Elon Musk announced important news, the main one obviously being the development of 4680 cells and structural batteries. But also in the background, a new cathode chemistry for batteries was announced, that basically allowed simpler and cheaper production; so this is probably the most probable pathway, based on simple logic.
Throughout all these years Elon Musk and Tesla have made it very clear that they intend to rely less on third party suppliers to manufacture batteries. Strategic moves have been made ever since in order to gain an advantage in the development and mass production of cheaper and more efficient batteries: from the acquisition of small startups to agreements with lithium distributors in the United States and abroad.

As of today this is the most tangible possibility, as regarding the use that Tesla wants to give to this new Gigafactory to be built within the grounds of the Austin plant. The specifications of the application include a total of 32 acres, where about 13 hectares of land will be used for the Cathode Project. At the moment no execution plans have been announced, although the simple fact of having already presented the documentation gives a clear evidence.

As per the Reuters report, " 2020 filings with the Commission, Tesla said its emissions sources for battery cell production would include anode and cathode mixing dust. Cathodes are the single most expensive component of a battery and producing them requires lots of space and emits large quantities of CO2 emissions."

A spokeswoman for the city's development services department said on Thursday, February 3rd that he "… can confirm that this is for the Tesla project and this permit is for a cathode building", adding that the city did not have further information at the moment.

Tesla Charger, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

With the main Giga Texas plant nearing completion, Tesla presumably wants to immediately turn its attention and focus to this Austin new (Cathode?) hub. If the plans come out as they seem to have been set, this same year the construction plans would begin to be executed, with the works to have been completed by the year 2024. Back in 2020 Drew Baglino, senior vice president of engineering, stated that “...we are going to start to build our own cathode facility in North America and take advantage of all the North American resources that exist for nickel and lithium.”

You can review here the articles on Electrek and Reuters for more information.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.