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Tesla Wants to Start Refining Lithium in Texas

The electric vehicle maker says it would be the first EV battery preparation facility of its kind in the U.S.

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Tesla is considering setting up its own lithium refinery on the gulf coast of Texas, Brazil’s Mercedes-Benz union is going on strike after layoffs that were announced earlier this week, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised President Biden’s economic agenda at a Ford factory visit. All that and more in The Morning Shift for (thank Christ it’s) Friday, September 9, 2022

1st Gear: Tesla’s Refinery Plans in Texas

Tesla is said to be considering building a lithium refinery on the gulf coat of Texas. It’s being done in an effort to secure a supply of that ever-so-important material that’s crucial for electric car batteries.


Tesla says it would be the first lithium hydroxide refining facility of its kind in North America. According to an application the company sent to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, the refinery will process “raw ore materials into a usable state for battery production.” From Reuters:

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said previously that Tesla might have to enter the mining and refining industry directly at scale as lithium prices surge.

Musk has also been vocal about the need for more players in the lithium refining industry. “You can’t lose. It’s licensed to print money,” he had said at the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

Securing a steady supply of battery components is seen critical for Tesla as it faces fierce competition in the fast-growing market for electric cars.

If approved, construction could begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 and would reach commercial production by the end of 2024, Tesla said in the application dated Aug. 22.


Reuters says that under this plan, Tesla will ship the final product from the refinery both by truck and rail to Tesla battery manufacturing sites. The company also said it would use less hazardous reagents compared to other such facilities. At the same time it would create more usable byproducts from the process as compared with conventional methods.

2nd Gear: Mercedes-Benz Workers Go on Strike in Brazil

Mercedes-Benz workers in Brazil have gone on strike after the company announced its plan to cut 3,600 employees.

In a statement, the Sindicato dos Metalurgicos do Grande ABC union said its workers would strike under September 12th at a factory that works on truck and bus chassis in Sao Paulo. Mercedes had announced it would be outsourcing those jobs. From Reuters:

“Many times in a negotiation process not everything the union wants will prevail, but also not everything the company wants,” said the union president, Moises Selerges.

He said that until last week the company was still hiring workers, which would make the layoffs “not logical” and “irrational.”


Boa sorte meus amigos!

3rd Gear: Yellen Touts Biden’s Economic Plans at Ford Plant

In a visit to Ford’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen showed off President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. As you may have imagined, the reason for the visit was to drum up enthusiasm ahead of the November midterm elections.


Secretary Yellen’s 30-minute speech highlighted some of the centerpieces of the President’s economic plans: the bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Yellen also talked about income and wealth inequality throughout the U.S. From The Detroit News:

The pandemic, Yellen said, highlighted and exacerbated existing economic issues such as supply-chain vulnerabilities, and she argued against a return to the pre-pandemic status quo.

“The pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities, but our economy had long been suffering from soaring inequality, weak growth and a sense of falling further behind for many — for too many,” she said. “Sluggish productivity growth and declining labor force participation has weighed down our economic potential. And growing disparities in economic conditions across geographies and racial groups has exacerbated inequality.”


“The pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities, but our economy had long been suffering from soaring inequality, weak growth and a sense of falling further behind for many — for too many,” she said. “Sluggish productivity growth and declining labor force participation has weighed down our economic potential. And growing disparities in economic conditions across geographies and racial groups has exacerbated inequality.”


During her speech, Yellen also said the Biden administration’s economic agenda would lead to expanded productive capacity, improved resilience to global supply shocks, and great economic fairness in the U.S., according to the outlet.

Yellen added the “most immediate challenge is to return to an environment of stable prices without sacrificing the economic gains of the past two years.”


4th Gear: BMW EVs Are Getting Different Batteries

BMW will switch up the type of batteries that power its electric vehicles from 2025 onward. The company will move to cylindrical battery cells made by partners including China’s CATL and EVE energy. It’s being done in an effort to speed up charging times and increase driving range.


It’s reported that the company has already placed multibillion-euro orders with those two battery makers. They will produce battery cells at four factories in China and Europe. BMW added that it was seeking partners to build two more factories in the U.S. and Mexico. From Reuters:

BMW said it would sign contracts for up to 20 gigawatt hours of capacity at each of the six plants.

CATL said in a separate statement on Friday that it would have two of its plants supply BMW with batteries that have the same diameter as Tesla’s 4680 cells.

The German automaker didn’t say how many batteries it plans to procure from EVE and CATL.

By adopting cylindrical cells, BMW (BMWG.DE) is breaking from the prismatic cells it has so far used in its batteries, following the path chosen by Tesla (TSLA.O) with its 4680 cylindrical battery.


BMW says the next-generation batteries will have different compositions from existing ones. They will increase energy density by 20 percent, have 30 percent faster charging and 30 percent more range.

5th Gear: Nikola’s Founder Is Having a Tough Go of it

Electric truck startup Nikola won a court order preventing its founder, Trevor Milton, from using certain company communions in his defense against criminal charges. He’s accused of lying about the company’s products in order to mislead investors and prop up stock prices. These are all things you shouldn’t do. From Bloomberg:

Just ahead of Milton’s trial next week in federal court in Manhattan, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos on Thursday granted Nikola’s request to intervene in the case to prevent Milton from introducing the confidential documents as evidence. The clean-energy truck maker also won its bid for a protective order specifically blocking Milton from eliciting testimony about communications between him and the company’s general counsel that are protected by attorney-client privilege.

Ramos denied all of Milton’s pretrial motions to throw out the indictment against him.


Milton’s relationship with the company he founded has been strained since he stepped down as executive chairman in September 2020 in the wake of regulatory probes and a collapse of the stock price. Aside from the fight over privileged documents, Milton — Nikola’s largest shareholder, with more than 12% of the stock — opposed a measure by the company this year to issue new shares to potentially raise more capital, which was then approved by investors.


Nikola started making payments on a $125 million civil settlement with the SEC in February of this year. The company says it will turn to Milton to reimburse those costs, even though Nikola is still covering his legal fees.

It’s a real mess, to say the least.

Reverse: Name’s a Bit Clunky, No?


Neutral: I’m Nearly Moved In

After over a week of moving myself and my girlfriend from our respective apartments in Lower Manhattan and Washington, D.C., we are nearly settled in our new place. It’s been a long-ass miserable journey so far, but we’re almost there. I will be doing nothing this weekend. I cannot wait.