What Everyone Got Wrong About Elon Musk’s Battery Day

Disappointed investors and analysts are missing what battery experts recognize as a transformative announcement

Steve LeVine
The Mobilist
Published in
3 min readSep 25, 2020

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Elon Musk presenting the new envisioned battery at Tesla’s Battery Day 2020.
Image: Tesla

Elon Musk’s influence over legacy industry has almost no modern precedent. Like Jeff Bezos’ shakeup of retail, automobiles in the 2020s and 2030s seem to be shaping up as Musk alone has reimagined them. Virtually every automaker, large or small, is piling into Musk’s electric world, with claims they will grab a significant slice of it.

Musk’s latest jerk of the wheel came this week with “Battery Day,” a long-teased event at which the Tesla CEO unveiled a sweeping, top-to-bottom recontemplation of the lithium-ion battery and how it is manufactured. The result, he said, would be a 56% cut in battery costs, finally opening up the mass market with $25,000 electric vehicles.

The market sent Tesla’s shares down more than 6%, and disappointed Wall Street analysts who said the presentation was light on details. But investors and analysts will need to catch up: Many battery experts themselves are treating what Musk described as a fait accompli.

In interviews, battery experts told me that Musk seemed to be understating the timeline — it looks closer to 2030 than his claim of 2023. But what he described…

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Steve LeVine
The Mobilist

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.