Tesla’s Vice-President of Investor Relations, Jeff Evanson, jumped in on the call between Langan and Bereisa to correct their analysis. Evanson stated that Tesla’s battery pack cost is already below $190/kWh – meaning at least 26% less than Bereisa’s current estimate – and that the base Model 3 will be offered with a battery pack option smaller than 60 kWh, like Bereisa assumed.
During the Model 3 unveiling last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the base Model 3, which is expected to start at $35,000 before incentives, will have a range of over 215 miles on a single charge. While Musk didn’t confirm the energy capacity of the pack, it will be impressive if Tesla can achieve such a range on a less than 60 kWh pack, like Evanson is now suggesting.
The $190 per kwh battery pack cost would indicate a cell cost of $128 or less using Bereisa’s 48-percent increment.
Bereisa disagreed with that cost, saying that the raw materials cost for today’s lithium-ion cell chemistries is $160 per kwh if you assume a conventional 40-percent supplier markup. Bereisa estimated Tesla’s per-kwh cost for the entire Model 3 battery pack at $260 per kwh. Bereisa estimated $215 per kwh for GM
Evanson also disputed Bereisa’s suggestion that the Model 3 would have a 60-kwh battery pack, saying that it would have a capacity below that estimate.
Bereisa shot back that 55 kwh or more would be required to get to the promised 200-mile range.
These various cost estimates cover only the materials and labor costs of the cells and packs, and do not include any overhead, capital investment, and the many other costs required to operate a car company.
The discussion reveals that battery and cell costs have not only fallen faster than expected just five years ago, but may be on a path to reach the magic $100 per kwh level at which electric cars are price-competitive with conventional models.
Bereisa is more pessimistic, estimating that even by 2025, the full pack will fall only to $135 to $155 per kwh.