(Representative Pic)  |  Photo Credit: iStock Images
- Scrap batteries emerging as a raw material to power EVs
- Tesla’s ex-CTO has an ambitious plan to move the world
- A ‘Gigafactory in reverse’ has found support from Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates-backed fund
Tesla has not just added a bunch of billionaires to the world’s rich list. With its evolution, the company has seeded the foundation of innovation in the entire EV ecosystem. If you were a bystander as Tesla shares raced through the charts in 2020, you may as well look for allied beneficiaries in the EV landscape. One of the startups that hope to shape how we will travel in the decades is Redwood Materials. Its founder – JB Straubel – once a CTO at Tesla has taken the mantle upon himself to charge up the future of mobility. Quite literally.
Straubel has lit up the eyes on the venture funds in automotive space with his Redwood Materials. At the core, it’s a recycling company. Among those backing him is a fund that has top dollars from Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates. Straubel plans to re-cycle lithium-ion batteries to power up EVs of the future. Because one day the world would need enough batteries to store energy, and move cars. Or so he bets. In a way, this is mining backwards.
JB hopes that there would be a day when recycling lithium-ion batteries would be cheaper than mining nickel and cobalt afresh. And that hope has made him venture out on his own after 15 years at Tesla.
This is a bet that’s still far into the future. Today, the demand for EV batteries is far from overwhelming. But all that may change. “When you look at the future of transportation and electrification of vehicles, the number of batteries that will be needed is staggering,” JB has been quoted in a news report in the recent past.
Tesla’s long-time supplier for batteries – Panasonic – too has ambitious plans. It hopes to make batteries in the future that will have zero cobalt. Redwood and Straubel are joining this race for a better product that can make a radical change in the EV market. Make electric cars cost less. Just months ago, Elon Musk said it plans to roll out a $25,000 car by 2023. That can’t happen without cheaper batteries. Almost half the price they are now, says Musk. And Straubel could have a role to play in that race.