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Tesla’s latest big unveil isn’t a car or truck: It’s the battery tech that could power its future


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Dec 3, 2017
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The company aims to build a battery that can make the transition to electric vehicles more sustainable.

SAN FRANCISCO — Tesla has focused on squeezing as much energy as possible out of its batteries, with industry-leading range figures that have bested its competitors by dozens of miles per charge. Now it has its sights set on a different goal: building batteries that cannot only beat rivals’ range — or how far their cars can travel on a single charge — but far outlast the life span of a single vehicle.

It’s the latest innovation push by the Silicon Valley car builder that has aimed to rewrite the rules on electric vehicles, making them performance-oriented and aspirational in a way that has eluded competitors. But electric vehicles constitute a small slice of the overall car market, and to expand, Tesla will need to reign supreme over not only the manufacturing of vehicles but also their lifeblood: batteries.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage Tuesday to announce plans for tackling that issue at a widely anticipated “Battery Day” event. Unlike at the company’s glitzy Cybertruck unveil in Los Angeles last year, there was no blockbuster product announcement and no definitive hardware breakthrough.

Teslas still go much farther on a single charge than their competitors. But the strategy carries risks.

Tesla instead sought to set its future agenda, headlined by its goal to build a $25,000 mass-market electric car — a niche its long-promised $35,000 Model 3 sedan failed to fill.
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