Elon Musk recently tweeted that Tesla may need to get into the business of sustainable mining and refining of lithium. With rare-earth metals being Tesla's main limiting factor to scaling, it makes sense that the automaker would consider vertically integrating this segment of its supply chain.
Lithium is a key component in electric vehicle batteries and demand is surging amid the global push for electrification. With demand surging and pandemic-triggered supply chain issues, the price of lithium has seen a drastic increase in recent years.
Musk replied to a World of Statistics tweet highlighting the massive increase in the price of lithium over the past decade. According to the tweet from @stats_feed, lithium costs have risen from $4,450 per tonne in 2012 to $78,032 in 2022. Lithium costs have increased by 1,654% in the past decade and 480% in just the past year.
Price of lithium has gone to insane levels! Tesla might actually have to get into the mining & refining directly at scale, unless costs improve.
There is no shortage of the element itself, as lithium is almost everywhere on Earth, but pace of extraction/refinement is slow.
Musk explains that "There is no shortage of the element itself" rather, the process of extraction and refinement is slow and therefore costly. Musk replied to Twitter user @PPathole, saying Tesla has some "cool ideas" for sustainably extracting and refining lithium.
We have some cool ideas for sustainable lithium extraction & refinement
This is not the first time Tesla has floated the idea of lithium mining.
In 2020, after securing rights to a lithium mine in Nevada, Tesla outlined a plan to start mining for lithium. Two years later, the electric car giant may start mining lithium due to the skyrocketing cost of battery metals.
Tesla has signaled a more open approach by allowing other automakers to access its Supercharger network. This move, spurred on by a groundbreaking deal with Ford, is more than a simple act of corporate benevolence. Superchargers, now a significant profit center for Tesla, could potentially revolutionize the electric vehicle charging infrastructure by making it universally accessible.
Patents Unleashed: A Closer Look
Tesla has also made strides in the world of intellectual property, opening up select patents to other automakers. This move echoes a similar step taken nearly a decade ago when Tesla announced an open-source approach to its patents. However, the details warrant attention. Tesla isn't giving away these patents out of pure altruism. There's an important caveat; Tesla requires a cross-license deal, effectively asking for access to the other automakers' patents in return. Critics argue that this does not constitute "free" access. It's a strategic maneuver aimed at mutual growth rather than unilateral generosity.
FSD and Autopilot: A Bold Proposition
Adding to the mix, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk announced the possibility of licensing Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) technologies to other automakers. This move could transform the landscape of autonomous driving by making Tesla's advanced technologies more widely accessible. However, the practical implementation is a complex process. Past discussions about licensing self-driving technology to other automakers have not materialized, indicating potential hurdles ahead.
An Industry Gamechanger
While the recent developments have generated much buzz, the long-term implications for Tesla and the electric vehicle industry remain unclear. Directly licensing technologies and working with companies that have designed them is a viable way to accelerate technological adoption. Tesla's moves could pave the way for more partnerships akin to its early collaborations with Daimler and Toyota. However, the willingness and ability of other automakers to integrate Tesla's technology remain to be seen.
The overarching narrative here aligns with Tesla's mission statement to help accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. By allowing broader access to its technologies, Tesla stands to propel the entire industry forward, even if it potentially narrows its competitive edge. But as Musk stated, "Patents do not define technology leadership...but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world's most talented engineers."
Whether this bold gambit will yield the intended results or backfire remains a question only time will answer. For now, Tesla continues to push boundaries, challenging the status quo in its relentless pursuit of a sustainable future.
In the ongoing quest to deliver advanced vehicular technology, Tesla never fails to surprise. Tesla enthusiasts have new reasons to rejoice as a host of features are set to augment Service Mode in an upcoming software update.
Pioneering Enhancements: From Diagnostics to Calibrations
With every update, Tesla's futuristic touch becomes more evident. Michal Gapinski, creator of the Tesla Android Project, which famously enables Apple CarPlay in Teslas through a web-based solution, has shared some upcoming features to Tesla's Service Mode with us. In a forthcoming software update, Service Mode will house new diagnostic screens for seat belts, the HVAC system, and what appears to be a new window calibration screen. These screens promise to provide a comprehensive, accessible system check-up that offers valuable insights into your Tesla's health.
Sealt Belt Service Menu
Tesla is making improvements to its Service Mode
The first new Service Mode menu appears to display details about Tesla's seat sensors, seat belts and the restraint control module (RCM). The car's visualization is displayed from the top with various areas are highlighted around the vehicle including what appears to be the seat sensors, seat belt buckles and retractors. Tesla displayed how they're tied together and how they communicate with the RCM.
New Window Calibration Menu
Tesla is making improvements to its window calibration system
But that's not all. Tesla also appears to be adding a new menu for calibrating vehicle windows. This updated window calibration menu features a new visualization, lets you easily calibrate each window individually and displays the generation of the hardware installed.
A particularly intriguing feature in the upcoming update is a dedicated service mode for Tesla's HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system. This unique feature will display fan RPM and temperatures in various areas, seemingly allowing a multi-angle view of the HVAC system's visualization.
Though Service Mode is tailored for technicians or Tesla owners with a deep understanding of their vehicle, it offers a new level of engagement, providing detailed insights that can help troubleshoot, reset, calibrate, and even configure new parts.
Accessing Service Mode
To access Service Mode, navigate to Controls > Software, and tap and hold on the vehicle's model name that appears underneath the car's image until a water ripple appears. Then release and type 'service' in the dialog box before hitting 'ok'. It is crucial, however, not to make changes unless you understand the implications fully, as they could negatively affect the vehicle. Moreover, DO NOT drive with Service Mode activated, as it disables critical safety features like traction control.
While the new Service Mode features are not in production yet, they are expected to debut in an upcoming update. As we eagerly await these enhancements, one thing is clear - Tesla continues to push the envelope in providing owners with an unparalleled, comprehensive understanding of their vehicles.
Stay tuned for more updates on these exciting developments as they're expected in an upcoming software update.
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