Tesla Accelerates Energy Storage Growth with Nevada Battery Expansion

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla's Energy Expansion
Tesla's Energy Expansion

Tesla is now making significant strides in the energy storage sector, expanding its battery production capabilities in Sparks, Nevada, and doubling the capacity of its existing battery factory in Lathrop, California, according to BNN Bloomberg.

This strategic move involves utilizing idle equipment from China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), a leading battery manufacturer. This expansion is part of Tesla's broader effort to onshore the supply chain for lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) cells in the United States, thereby enhancing its production autonomy and reducing dependence on overseas suppliers.

Tesla's Independent Control and Strategic Planning

In a notable departure from typical industry partnerships, Tesla plans to purchase machinery from CATL and install it at the Sparks facility. Tesla will maintain full control of the operation and cover all associated costs. CATL's role is limited to assisting with equipment setup, marking minimal involvement from the Chinese company. The new facility will focus on producing cells for Tesla’s large-battery Megapack product, which is designed for utility-scale energy storage applications.

Tesla's expansion in Nevada comes during heightened scrutiny by U.S. lawmakers and the Biden administration over technology collaborations with China, especially in sectors like battery production. By minimizing CATL's involvement in the new facility, Tesla aims to address concerns about U.S. companies' dependence on Chinese partnerships and aligns with the national policy of reducing technological dependencies.

Doubling Down: Tesla's Lathrop Factory Expansion

In addition to the new facility in Nevada, Tesla plans to double the capacity of its existing battery factory in Lathrop, California. The expansion of the Lathrop factory and the addition of the new Nevada facility underscores Tesla's commitment to scaling up its energy storage capabilities.

This move aligns with Elon Musk's assertion during last week's earnings call, “I said for many years that the storage business would grow much faster than the car business, and it is doing that.’ He also stated that Tesla’s energy storage business delivered nearly 15 gigawatt hours of batteries in 2023, compared to 6.5 gigawatt hours the year before. “So tremendous year-over-year growth, triple-digits. And yeah, I think we'll continue to see robust growth in storage, as predicted."

Commitment to Supplier Collaboration and Growth

Karn Budhiraj, Vice President of Global Supply Management, shared insights on the company's plans during the earnings call: "Megapack continues to see strong demand signals globally, driving consistent growth trajectory through '24 and '25. We want to thank all of our partners who've put their trust in the Megapack team to execute critical infrastructure worldwide. And I would like to personally thank the Megapack engineering and production teams for their strong 2023 execution. Lathrop continues to ramp through 2024 with the operation of a second final assembly line to double capacity from 20 gigawatts to 40 gigawatt hours by the end of the year."

Elon Musk also emphasized the importance of Tesla's suppliers in this growth, "But we also do want to emphasize that we also expect to ramp orders from our suppliers. So this is not about replacing our suppliers, it's about supplementing our suppliers. So we are very appreciative of our suppliers. Panasonic, obviously, is our longest supplier. They're an amazing company. We've got CATL, we've got LG, and BYD."

The new Nevada facility, expected to become operational by 2025, will start with an initial output of approximately 10 gigawatt-hours (GWh). Plans are in place to expand the facility, contingent upon the project's smooth progression and establishing a stable supply chain. Once fully operational, the Nevada facility could contribute significantly to Tesla's overall battery production capacity in the region, potentially accounting for about 20% of the production, including the output from the Lathrop location.

Tesla Update 2024.20 Lets Matrix Headlights Adapt to Curves, Adds Supercharger Leaderboards and More

By Karan Singh

Tesla has been on a roll with updates recently, and now update 2024.20 was released to employees over the weekend. This update builds on the many features in the Spring Update and adds a few big improvements.

Adaptive Headlights

New updates to Adaptive Headlights are arriving for European cars with matrix headlights. The new update allows the headlights to adapt to curves in the road ahead of you, enabling better illumination. Having the adaptive headlights work for curves is the second major update for matrix headlights. Update 2024.8 added adaptive high-beam support, letting your high beams stay on longer by turning off select LEDs in the headlights.

Update 2024.2 first brought adaptive high beams to the new Model 3, before it was later introduced to older vehicles with matrix headlights. At this time, it’s not clear whether the improvements to headlights around curves will be exclusive to matrix headlights or also support the new Model 3.

How to Tell If You Have Matrix Headlights

How do you know if you have matrix headlights on your Tesla? On the outer edge of the headlight, there will be a large, round projector dome, like in the image below. If there isn’t a dome, those are standard non-matrix headlights.
Another way to tell is to run a stock light show while facing a wall. If the Tesla logo, in letters, pops up, you have matrix headlights.

Matrix headlights have a circular dome projector on the outer edge.
Matrix headlights have a circular dome projector on the outer edge.

For now, North America still does not have adaptive headlight support, mostly due to legislative and testing issues in the United States. The US recently approved adaptive headlights, and a Tesla employee mentioned they’re working on it. Canada has legalized adaptive headlights since 2018, so we see this deployed in North America at some point in the future.

Supercharger Races on Beach Buggy Racing 2

Tesla is still improving its Arcade functionality, with the addition of local leaderboards at Superchargers in Beach Buggy Racing 2. It appears that each individual Supercharger site will have its own leaderboard, which drivers can compete on while their cars charge. Tesla says there will also be special races to compete in this Beach Buggy Racing 2 update.

Tesla owners can plug in and play with a controller, the touchscreen, or their vehicle’s steering wheel. Thanks to steer-by-wire on the Cybertruck, the actual wheels on the truck won’t move like they do on other Tesla models when playing the game.

We continue to hope that future refreshes to the S, 3, X, and Y will eventually receive steer-by-wire as well, as the feature has quite a few unique uses, whether driving or parked.

Autopilot Strikes and Suspension

An updated Autopilot Strike system, similar to the one that is on Tesla’s upcoming FSD V12.4 update, is on 2024.20 as well. At five strikes, users will be suspended from the use of Autopilot like before, but now Tesla will remove a strike for each 7-day period the driver goes without receiving a strike.

FSD 12.4 also improves vision-based monitoring and removes the steering wheel nag, but that’s not in this latest Tesla update, but will likely be added in the future.

Tesla tends to release new Autopilot features in their FSD updates before releasing them to the wider public for regular Autopilot use.

Hot Weather Improvements

The last set of user-end improvements coming in 2024.20 will be related to hot weather, the opposite of 2024.2.6’s cold weather update. This set of changes intends to improve AUTO mode HVAC performance in hot weather, helping to cool down the cabin faster, while also maintaining comfort at lower noise levels.

There have been several updates in the last six months to Tesla’s HVAC systems, all helping to deliver a quieter, more comfortable experience, with one of the last major ones introducing cool-down or warm-up periods before blowing air into the car cabin.

Tesla Software in China Shows 'Employee FSD Beta Program' as Tesla Prepares for Launch

By Karan Singh

Chris Zeng, a Chinese Tesla content creator on X, recently posted an image with Tesla’s Spring Update – 2024.14, with the words “Employee FSD Beta Program: Registered.”

He also confirmed that although this text appears in the vehicle, there are no actual FSD features enabled yet.

FSD Beta Coming to China

Recently, Tesla began to offer Enhanced Autopilot subscriptions in China, and Chinese corporate giant Baidu announced that it will be providing enhanced 3D mapping for Tesla vehicles as well.

On a recent trip to China, Elon Musk spoke with Premier Li Qiang on the rollout of FSD to China. Later follow-ups said that “it may be possible [for FSD to arrive in China] very soon”.

FSD Shadow Mode

Tesla’s cars can operate FSD in Shadow Mode – which means that the vehicle is running FSD in the background without any real output except analytics. This is a common software practice that lets software engineers compare the process they’re testing against an existing known output and compare the results. In this case, Tesla compares what FSD would do to what the driver does, and any discrepancies are reported back to be analyzed.

With this information, we could guess that FSD has been operating in Shadow Mode in China for a while, and this new Employee FSD Beta Program will be the beginning of employee testing in China, providing even more data for the end-to-end process that is FSD V12.

FSD Beta, not Supervised FSD

Most interestingly, the photo refers to “FSD Beta” instead of “Supervised,” which Tesla started using with FSD 12.3.3 in March 2024. This could imply that FSD in China isn’t ready for a “Supervised” variant, and it’s considered to be in more of a testing stage.

In the photo, we can also see that it says “Wave 1,” which is what Tesla calls the group of employees who receive “pre-release” Tesla updates on their personal vehicles. Wave 1 serves as a final test for software before its released to the public. In most cases, the software is rolled out publicly within a couple of weeks, however, there have been times when bugs are found and Tesla releases revision before a public release.

Release Date

Prior to larger releases here in North America, we generally see Tesla ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) testing and verification vehicles on the roads, which have not yet been spotted in China.

Whether these vehicles will be needed in China is up for debate, but once FSD features begin rolling out to employees, we should get a better idea of a public release in China.

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