Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently "urged miners to produce more nickel" as the company is happily willing to secure long-term nickel suppliers for battery production.
Nickel is one of the key ingredients of the cathode of lithium-ion cells, especially in higher-energy dense chemistries with low cobalt content (like the Tesla-Panasonic NCA or LG Chem NCM 811).
"Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way,” Musk said on a post-earnings call on Wednesday."
The hint about growing nickel demand and a long-term supply contract, together with the previous cobalt supply agreement, indicates that Tesla intends to use nickel and cobalt-based batteries in the foreseeable future.
Maybe the company will reveal more details about its tech at the upcoming, long-awaited Battery Day, but as of today, there is no sign about a battery chemistry that would turn everything upside down - like a totally new chemistry/other elements. Tesla would then not bother to use nickel and cobalt. At least, that's our guess.
The key thing for Tesla seems to be the focus on lowering the prices of batteries. The energy density is probably already high enough to be satisfied with slower evolution there.
"“The real limitation on Tesla growth is cell production at affordable price. That’s the real limit,” Musk said, adding the company would expand its business with Panasonic and CATL and “possibly with others”."
If that is true, the next big thing for Tesla should be a significant improvement to the production process of batteries. We would not be surprised if Battery Day reveals a production improvement instead of groundbreaking chemistry.