Panasonic May Not Source Tesla's Rumored Hybrid Battery
Trip Chowdhry, the Managing Director of Equity Research at Global Equities Research, is convinced that Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) is building a new hybrid battery pack.
Chowdhry came to this conclusion after examining a patent that the company filed in July.
In short, the patent describes a system that would use a:
- Metal-air battery pack (oxygen would be used as one of the electrodes to produce electricity, apparently).
- Non-metal-air battery pack (a standard, lithium-ion battery).
By combining these battery types together in one car, Chowdhry believes that Tesla could offer multiple driving modes.
For example, the "extended mode" would switch to the metal-air battery, which has a high energy density but packs a low power density. The result would be a Tesla vehicle that can drive farther but may not offer the same performance (ex: lightning-quick acceleration) as a lithium-ion battery.
Since the lithium-ion battery offers high power density, drivers would be able to switch to the "normal mode" to receive a familiar Tesla driving experience.
Chowdhry also theorized that Tesla would offer a "hybrid mode" where both batteries work together. In this mode, the lithium-ion battery would power the drive train, while the metal-air battery would charge the lithium-ion battery.
While nothing official has been announced, Chowdhry estimated that the battery could be ready for new Tesla vehicles in 2015.
When asked how this might impact Panasonic (OTC: PCRFY), which has a four-year contract to deliver battery cells for 80,000 Tesla vehicles, Chowdhry said that he does not expect Panasonic to build these batteries. He does not think that Samsung (OTC: SSNLF) will build the metal-air batteries either.
"I don't think Panasonic or even Samsung could be a leader in the metal-air battery [production]," Chowdhry told Benzinga. "I think there could be some other players, [but] we don't know who it is."
After metal-air batteries infiltrate the market, Chowdhry said that the need for lithium-ion batteries could be greatly reduced. Instead of commanding 100 percent of the electric car market (as they do today), Chowdhry theorized that lithium-ion batteries will one day account for 60 percent of the market. The remaining 40 percent would go to metal-air batteries.
While this could reduce Panasonic's chances of securing another major contract with Tesla, Chowdhry thinks that Panasonic could still provide innovation with new lithium-ion batteries.
Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.
Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ
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