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Batteries

Sandy Munro’s Latest Thoughts On Solid-State Batteries & Tesla

Originally posted on EVANNEX.

by Charles Morris

Sandy Munro is always worth listening to—his knowledge of auto manufacturing is vast, he has an engaging speaking style, and best of all, he loves Tesla (but he has no problem calling the company out when he thinks it has fallen short). Sandy recently appeared on Sean Mitchell’s All Things EV podcast to deliver some pithy comments about the hottest trends in the EV industry.

Tesla Model 3 Charging. ChargePoint. Florida. Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica

Munro starts the conversation about Tesla with a provocative statement: “Elon Musk lies. A lot.” Wow, is he seriously knocking the Iron Man here? Not at all. What he means is that Musk “understates, then overdelivers.” Now, that’s funny, because a lot of the anti-Tesla crowd would have us believe just the opposite. The mainstream press regularly paints Elon as a huckster who makes pie-in-the-sky promises, then delivers late or not at all.

The best explanation for this disconnect is that the vast majority of the pundits and pontificators who churn out an endless flood of opinions about Tesla and Musk simply do not understand the technology, or the dynamics of the auto industry. Sandy Munro, on the other hand, most certainly does. Most of the mainstream media never grasped the true significance of the Battery Day announcements, and most have no concept of what it will mean when Tesla’s self-driving Robotaxis finally come into service—most writers tend to focus on the delays rather than the eventual results.

Sandy gives us several examples of Teslan technologies that promise to be game-changers: the new Octovalve/heat pump system, the tabless battery design, and the new 2170 cells, which have virtually eliminated cobalt. Each one of these innovations has the potential to greatly improve the efficiency, and reduce the cost, of Tesla’s vehicles, but Elon’s discussion of them has been aimed at fellow engineers and others who can grasp their importance, and has flown far over the heads of most members of the public and the press.

Above: Sandy Munro gives his thoughts on Tesla and the current landscape unfolding related to next-gen EV batteries (YouTube: Sean Mitchell)

Sandy acknowledges that Tesla may soon be facing competition in the battery sphere. Solid-state batteries have been touted as the next big thing for a while, and it now appears that they’re close to becoming a reality. Newly-public QuantumScape has some heavy hitters behind it, including the Volkswagen Group, a major investor. Sandy drops something of a bombshell when he predicts that QuantumScape will have solid-state batteries ready for prime time in two years. He points out that several groups have already built working solid-state batteries, but building them at scale will be the real challenge.

As we’ve observed in this space more than once, most stock-market analysts seem to have real difficulties understanding Tesla, and Mr. Munro has some pretty dismissive comments about that crowd. “I don’t know if anybody takes these guys seriously anymore, but certainly I don’t.” He notes that these days, he’s talking directly with a lot of brokerage houses. The money managers are increasingly “skipping the analysts and going to experts, or what they think are experts, anyway,” says Sandy with typical aw-shucks modesty.

When will the tipping point for electrification come? By 2030? Sandy now thinks it will come much sooner than that, and that when it does, many in the legacy auto industry will be sadly unprepared (“toast” is the actual word he used). “It’s going to be a new world here shortly—next year is going to be really telling. I think next year in the auto industry, we’re going to see a lot of change in management.”

Munro has more to say about Tesla, as well as the crop of new EVs coming this year, and the big changes ahead for the auto industry. The video is well worth watching in its entirety.

 
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