Tesla (TSLA) stock is climbing today in midday trade, up over 2% and up nearly 10% for the week. Here are two big stories driving shares today:
Tesla shuffles staff at Giga Nevada, reveals new data
In leaked audio of a Thursday meeting obtained by CNBC, Tesla revealed it has reshuffled its leadership at its Gigafactory in Nevada, where it produces powertrains and batteries for its various operations, and noted some production data.
The audio revealed Chris Lister, former VP of Gigafactory Operations has left the company and has been replaced by Hrushikesh “Hrushi” Sagar, who will oversee operations at Giga Nevada, and continue to oversee operations at the Fremont factory as well. Other new leaders at the Gigafactory include Energy Leader Matt Reddick, Site Leader Eric Montgomery who will handle day-to-day operations, and Jeff Jackson, who will lead infrastructure at Nevada.
In the meeting attended by hundreds of Gigafactory employees, CNBC notes Sagar also discussed new factory milestones and current production data across Nevada and the Fremont plant.
Sagar said the Gigafactory Nevada produced 283,473 powertrains in Q2, which were then fed to Fremont and Giga Austin. Montgomery said the factory will need to increase output to 8,800 high voltage battery packs to support Fremont’s new production goals, and “maximize all-wheel-drive builds.”
Speaking of Fremont, Sagar revealed Fremont produced around 134,000 cars in Q2, and August was one of Fremont’s record months of production. Sagar said Fremont is producing around 12,000 cars a week, with 14,000 cars a week as its next goal. That would put Fremont production around 500K to 600K cars a year, allowing for factory downtime.
Tesla looks into lithium refining
On Tesla’s Q1 earnings call earlier this year, CEO Elon Musk joked to investors, “do you like minting money? Well, the lithium business is for you.”
Well, it seems Tesla is following its CEO’s advice, according to a recent application with the Texas Comptroller’s office.
Tesla is looking into setting up a lithium refinery in Texas on the gulf coast, where it intends to process “raw ore material into a usable state for battery production,” it said in the application.
Reuters notes Tesla would be the first automaker to invest directly in lithium mining. This comes after many automakers like Tesla, Ford (F), GM (GM), and Stellantis (STLA) invested directly into acquiring raw lithium.
Tesla signed a supply deal with Australia-based Liontown Resources (LTR.AX) earlier this year.
The reason why automakers are getting involved is the lack of battery materials like raw and refined lithium needed for production, especially when looking at the expanded EV production plans the traditional automakers are all pushing by the end of the decade.
“We think that by 2030, about 2/3 of all new global auto production will be electrified, whether that’s going to be a hybrid or a battery electric vehicle,” Morningstar Chief US market strategist Dave Sekura said in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “So when we look at the amount of lithium that’s being produced today and how much they expect to come online over the next decade, we think the lithium market is going to be pretty significantly undersupplied over the next decade.”
Currently, most of the refined lithium used by the automotive industry is coming from China. With new incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act for batteries produced in the U.S., and expanded consumer tax credits for cars with domestic battery materials, other automakers and suppliers are likely to invest more in lithium production and refining here at home.