Elon Musk: Tesla In Talks With BMW – Batteries, Carbon Fiber & Charging Stations


Tesla Model S & BMW i8

Tesla Model S & BMW i8

BMW Meets Tesla

BMW Meets Tesla

In an interview with Der Spiegel, Tesla Motors CEO made a pair of statements that will surely cause a stir in the automotive world.

First, Musk stated that Tesla will construct a battery factory in Germany, he’s just not sure when it’ll happen:

“I assume that Tesla will build, in the long run, a battery factory in Germany.”

Sure, when BEVs dominate the sales charts at some point in the far-off future, Tesla will likely have battery factories all around the globe.  So, not much in that statement.

However, the second statement made by Musk is interesting:

“This could be interesting for our body builders.”

A reference to the carbon fiber in use in both the BMW i3 and BMW i8.  According to Musk, Tesla has been in talks with BMW for quite awhile now in regards to battery technology and charging stations.  “We are talking about whether we can collaborate in battery technology or charging stations.”  Nothing was revealed on those fronts yet, but Tesla’s interest in BMW’s cheap carbon fiber is interesting, even Musk says so as “interesting” and “relatively cost efficient” are the words he used to describe BMW’s carbon fiber.

A spokeswoman for Tesla Germany tried to dim the spotlight on the Tesla-BMW situation:

“The conversation between Elon Musk and BMW has been a casual conversation, and not about a formal cooperation.”

Source: Spiegel Online

Category: BMWTesla

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32 responses to "Elon Musk: Tesla In Talks With BMW – Batteries, Carbon Fiber & Charging Stations"
  1. Anon says:

    Carbon fiber production seems to have been / be a bottleneck for BMW right now. So, not sure how that could be a good thing for 500,000 units a year production by Tesla, if they switched to using it for body panels…

    BMW and Tesla would be a good fit. Anyone else using the growing SuperCharger Network, would be awesome.

    1. Mikael says:

      When I hear Tesla + carbon fiber I’m automatically thinking of an high end roadster or other version of a sportscar.

      Something that is as light as the competition even with a fairly large battery.

      A vehicle that could challenge BMW and others on a race track in every way including handling and durable top speed.

      Added into high number series production cars like Model S + 3 + X? Not so much…

      But I really hope BMW wants to be a part of the supercharging network and pays a fair price for the use. It would help expanding it even further.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        bring it on!! I’ve always been a roadster fan. Just wish we’de see used prices come down a bit.

      2. Someone out there says:

        I think it would be beneficial if the supercharger network would be split off into it’s own company, initially wholly owned by Tesla but allowing other car manufacturers to buy into it

      3. Mike I says:

        A CFRP hood would eliminate the dreaded “frunk dent”. An electric power closer a-la-Cadillac would also solve the problem.

    2. MDEV says:

      Carbon fiber Gigafactory.

      1. kdawg says:

        That would be an interesting concept.

        Looks like someone in Minnesota already beat Tesla to building a Giggle Factory. (can’t say that I approve of the child labor).

        1. ffbj says:

          There is little to do MN in the Winter, may as well put the crumbmunchers to work.

      2. Steven says:

        If Tesla were to build a CF Gigafactory, I imagine Boeing would be knocking on their door.

    3. MTN Ranger says:

      Nothing a gigafiber factory can’t solve.

  2. pjwood says:

    BMW could green light a more sales oriented i5 if perhaps it leased super-charger use for 3 years, or that time by which Tesla expects much higher sales (from Model E, etc) themselves. I think about it and doubt BMW would conform to the SC standard, or that Tesla would give it up, but as a way to take a lead on the pack before CCS sees serious North American attention?

  3. GeorgeS says:

    Elon said charging STATIONs not super chargers.

    He might share the SC network with some few high dollar BMW owners but I can’t see him sharing with a manufacturer that has a bunch of cheap 200 mile EV’s (like next gen Leaf or the GM 200 mile EV.

    1. Brian says:

      What is your reasoning here? Tesla has always said that they want to usher in a new age of EVs. One of the best way to do that is to provide superchargers for a bunch of “cheap” long-range EVs. I could understand the concern with an 80-mile Leaf plunking along at 50kW max, but if a 150-200 mile Leaf can pull 100kW, why wouldn’t Tesla let them? I’m not saying that access is free, maybe it’s even a premium over Tesla owners. But if I had a 200 mile Sonic, eGolf, Leaf, etc, I would gladly pay $3k for lifetime access to the supercharger network.

      1. svev says:

        What Tesla says in public and what Tesla does in private are two different things. In the UK, Tesla secretly tried to get Ecotricity’s charging stations kicked out of Motorway service areas so that only Tesla’s would be able to supercharge there, as opposed to Ecotricity allowing any EV to charge there.

        For some reason InsideEVs has refused to cover this story. 🙁

        1. Rob Stark says:

          Tesla did not want to sublease from Ecotricity at obscene rates and wanted to go directly to the source.

          What Dale Vince says and reality are not necessarily the same.

        2. JakeY says:

          My understanding of that is that Tesla originally was going to work with Ecotricity, but didn’t like the rates they were charging, so Tesla went direct to the service stations (with the service stations violating exclusivity contracts signed with Ecotricity).

          There was never anything about Tesla kicking out Ecotricity, just Tesla breaking up the monopoly Ecotricity had on service station charger locations via exclusivity contracts. Tesla would happily share the locations with other chargers (as they have already been doing in Europe).

    2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

      Charge rate limits conventional batteries to 60kWh and up for Supercharging, so that right there will keep the eligible vehicles somewhat rarified. Tesla would be foolish to allow slowpokes with small batteries to clog their SC network up at anything less than max speed.

      1. Brian says:

        I will point out that the supercharger stalls are arranged in pairs such that if a car pulls in and starts charging at 50kW, you still have I believe 100kW to provide to the neighboring stall. A Leaf charging literally next to a Model S would have minimal impact to the Model S’s charge rate. By contrast, two Model Ses splitting a pair will severely limit the power available to the second Model S (they are first-come, first-served). The much bigger concern is having two Leafs split a pair, while two Model Ses split another.

        This is a logistical problem, not a technical one. One solution could be that any car less than 100kW can only charge in “A” stalls, but anyone that can take 100kW+ can charge in “A” or “B” stalls. The challenge is enforcing that. I equate it to “E-Z Pass Only” lanes on the toll roads. My E-Z Pass works in any lane, but anyone without a tag passing through the E-Z Pass Only lane gets a ticket in the mail.

        1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

          Even with a smaller battery, clogging will occur as miles per kWh is pretty consistent and to travel the same distance means you’re still taking up spots for longer even if the time is split between multiple sessions/locations.

          If Tesla opens the network up, they should require 120kW charging and $3k (minus exchange for stuff like cross licensing and/or a proper tie-up agreement) per vehicle.

          1. Brian says:

            Understood, some clogging will occur. But you seem to be missing my point that the stalls are teamed in pairs. The amount of “clogging” will not be nearly as bad as you seem to imply. In a Leaf + Model S pair, the Model S will charge nearly as fast as when alone. In a Model S + Model S pair, the second car will charger noticeably slower. The sum of the output of the pair is still at most 150kW, it is just the split that is different. A 50kW car will NOT, in this case, monopolize 135kW worth of power.

            Ultimately, if we want a significant market penetration of BEVs, travel plazas will have to install many more QCs. If people are paying $2k-$3k to gain access, and there are that many cars, it will be relatively easy to expand the charger (to a point – taken to the extreme, eventually you’d need a co-located power plant as Mr. Howland has pointed out)

      2. As @Brian notes, charging speed is not so much an issue should smaller battery capacity EVs gain access to charge at Superchargers. Even if 80 mile range LEAFs could use Superchargers today, you won’t see many as the average distance between stations requires ~150 miles range. Superchargers are spaced 120-170 miles apart, so unless there is alternative charging to cross gaps for shorter-range EVs , they won’t be traveling far.

        The location of Superchargers has been very stretregic so they are used to extend range, not as a daily charging station. (Only 5-10% of miles a Tesla owner drives are supercharged). An 80 mile BMW, or Nissan EV would have limited access to just one regional station, but at 150 miles range, use of the network becomes a game changer.

        Essentially Tesla has set the value bar at 150 miles of range, or more. This is a strong incentive to OEMs wanting to leverage the value of the Supercharger network. The dividing line between urban and touring BEVs has essentially been drawn at ~150 miles.

      3. io says:

        @KN: The Kia Soul EV charges at about the same rate as a 60 kW⋅h Model S…


    3. Spec9 says:

      Why not? They’ve said they want licensees to the supercharger network. That will help get them others to support the continued build-out of the supercharger network.

      Getting another company to use it will improve people’s confidence in the fact that the supercharger network will continue to exist and grow. As is, there are still a lot of people that think Tesla is flash in the pan and could collapse such that they would not yet buy a Tesla.

  4. Spec9 says:

    This seems like a great deal for BMW and a good deal for Tesla.
    -Getting access to the BMW CFRP technology may help Tesla obtain reasonably priced lightweight technology. (The current bottleneck can be remedied by adding more capacity.)
    -Getting access to batteries from the giga factory can provide BMW with cheap batteries to build electrics.
    -Selling batteries to BMW reduces the risk of the gigafactory since they’ll have a customer if they have overcapacity.
    -Getting access to the supercharge network will make long-range BMW EVs GREAT since the supercharger network is the best charging network on the planet (assuming you have a big battery).
    -Having BMW on board as a supercharger user will help Tesla build the supercharger network.

    The deal is great for both but I think BMW gets the slightly better deal. Tesla will need to watch out because they are creating a potential strong competitor to themselves. Right now, Tesla has the much better EVs. But BMW are no slouches . . . they can move beyond the weird i3 and high-price niche i8 in order to build a real EV such as 5-series type car with a big battery.

    1. See Through says:

      Oh Phlease! Getting battery from the giggle factory in 2030? BMW has already said, they believe the REX approach is better than lugging around tons of battery packs.

      The CCS chargers have ample power for BMW plug-ins. BMW gains nothing from this. BMW has shortage of CFRP supply. Why would they give that crucial element to competitor?

  5. ffbj says:

    Maybe a swap where Bmw i3 and i8 can use sc network and Tesla can be sold through bmw dealerships, and throw some carbon fiber life modules in for good measure.

  6. IDK says:

    I wonder how the Carbon Fiber talks went with South Korea company GS Caltex back in August? I thought BMW was having a hard enough time producing Carbon Fiber for their i3 and i8 models.

  7. James says:

    I believe the information in this article can be misconstrued to – ( once again ) believe BMW’s electric offerings are constructed of, “BMW’s cheap carbon fiber”.

    Why is it so difficult to say CFRP? BMW’s body parts are a molded plastic piece which is then glued, then one thin sheet of carbon fiber is attached to either side. It’s a sandwich. Elon says this is an interesting, possibly lighter and cheaper than aluminum ( if made in mass quantities for economies of scale )material yes – but it isn’t “cheap carbon fiber”, or “carbon fiber” guys.

    Journalists have to get this right before we readers do. So many just say i3 and i8 are, “made of carbon fiber”.

  8. Tyl Young says:

    At some point more and more weight will need to come out of Tesla’s vehicles to help increase range. As carbon fiber (CF) manufacturing becomes more the norm I’m sure Tesla will adopt it. I think that was in Tesla’s original planning but CF just was mature enough early on in the automobile industry. Heck, even now CF is still in its infancy as are batteries. Now is a good time to lead down the CF road, maturing alongside batteries.

  9. Jouni Valkonen says:

    I think that this is especially promising, because there is good cost reduction potential in carbon fiber manufacturing. This may further deepen the disruption of car markets. Those car companies that refuses to change, such as Toyota, will probably be hit very hard.

    Also renewable power will help with the cost reductions of carbon fiber, because carbon fiber manufacturing is very energy intensive and with intermittent renewables we have periodical surplus power production in the grid. This very cheap surplus power is very cost effective to use for carbon fiber manufacturing.

  10. Lindsay Patten says:

    Maybe BMW can make a deal to piggyback on the electrical infrastructure at the supercharger sites to put in their inexpensive CCS chargers? That would avoid clogging up the superchargers with slow-charging cars while still expanding the EV infrastructure.

  11. MC says:

    Besides a universal plug for charging (which shouldn’t be that hard for EV OEMs to agree upon), in order for EVs to truly become a viable means of transportation for the mass-market there needs to be a ubiquitous Public Fast-Charge Network in place, one that provides a charging experience closer to the fueling paradigm of a gasoline car…gas stations everywhere and 10 minutes to fuel for 300 miles of travel.

    The current fuel pathway (energy delivery system) for EVs, the local distribution system of the Electric Utilities (the “Grid”), were not designed to support ubiquitous high-voltage Public EV Fast-Charging (or for that matter, any large amount of home or workplace charging). To make “the Grid” capable will cost an unknown amount of capital and result in higher utility bills for everyone. This current inadequacy of the Grid and the unknown cost to meet future demand has hindered mass adoption of EVs.

    A great solution to this widely known, but often unspoken problem, is to build an alternative network of off-Grid, natural gas fueled, dispersed generation, Public EV Fast-Charge stations that can be rapidly deployed anywhere there is a connection to the natural gas distribution network. An EV charging solution that delivers on-demand, 24/7, fixed price, unregulated, high-voltage electricity that exceeds the needs of the EV market today and enables rapid future growth.

    Natural gas is the bridge to the future of renewable energy sources and technologies, and the only reasonably priced abundant resource available that can bridge the gap for the next 50+ years. Billions are continuing to be spent on battery technologies to increase capacity and decrease weight, charging times and cost…adequate Fast-Charge infrastructure is limping along behind the proliferation of EVs when it should be in the forefront. There are many solutions to solve all the problems with the EV ecosystem and break our dependence on oil for transportation.