Batteries, the key or the Kryptonite of the electrical transition?

17-06-2021 | Featured in HP, News


You say Gigafactory and immediately comes to mind Elon Musk. The South African entrepreneur is, among his many positions, also the CEO of Tesla, the automotive industry that has been making electric 100% cars for years. Still luxury items for the mass market, these vehicles have however influenced the entire industry of mobility: in fact, there is no car manufacturer that has not published at least one concept of a green or post diesel model. In ecological transition which a large part of the policy has taken on board, however, it will be necessary to understand how to implement batteries efficient to power a new fleet of cars, also taking into consideration the chapter of necessarily renewable sources for recharging cars to ensure that the framework is truly green. It's been years that Elon Musk works on Gigafactory, huge industrial plants dedicated to the production of batteries to power electric cars, to the point that the idea has also won over several entrepreneurs around the world (even in Italy).

Musk and the monopoly risk

Tesla's first Gigafactory was built in Nevada, in the desert. According to the magazine The Verge, who visited it several years ago, here Tesla intends to kick off a quasi-monopoly control of the production of lithium-ion batteries. Looking ahead, the company should produce 60% of the total worldwide. During the Battery Day last year, Elon Musk he had declared what he is research and development work on batteries is crucial, to make them more efficient and durable. In fact, there was talk of "super batteries" with an overall life cycle of 1.6 million km. Furthermore there is the cost chapter: if the Gigafactories were to succeed in the goal of churning out cheaper batteries, this would have a positive impact on the cost of the electric ones which, at the moment, are on the market with prices that are not always competitive.

Batteries and ecars: the Toyota version

One of Tesla's competitors par excellence, the Japanese giant, intervened on this hot topic Toyota. Akio Toyoda, the president of the Japanese car manufacturer, had entered the subject of electric cars with a straight leg at the end of 2020. According to Toyota's number one ecars are overrated. "When politicians say 'let's get rid of all cars that use gasoline', do they understand what that means?", He asked a few months ago, referring to the enormous energy effort needed to replace fossil mobility with electric one. A debate is taking place in Italy too, which seeks to go deeper into the issue, in order to understand how much the electric transition will cost in terms of jobs in the auto market.

The Gigafactory however, they seem to offer a profitable business model, which also finds fertile ground in Italy. One of these, in fact, will open soon in Piedmont, in the former Olivetti headquarters in Scarmagno in the province of Turin. To invest in this corner of northern Italy - where construction sites for the first tricolor vertiport - will be the Italian Italvolt, which announced a € 4 billion investment. On paper, the facility could be one of the largest in the world. The more the battery market is open and competitive, the more there will be the possibility of containing prices.

The disposal node

It wouldn't be true ecological transition if we didn't worry about the whole supply chain concerning batteries. According to the most recent data taken from the BBC and cited by Republic, as soon as the 5% would be properly recycled by the manufacturers. The risk is not only for the environment, but also for people and workers (if not disposed of correctly, in fact, batteries can even explode). Last but not least, there remains the knot of workers rights which, especially in China, operate in precarious conditions from the point of view of health protection.

Share this content on: