Former executives at Tesla, who have seen the early-day struggles of the world’s most famous EV brand, have raised more than $26 billion after leaving Tesla to develop their own green energy startups.
More than 30 startups have been either launched or led by ex-Tesla managers, and those firms have raised billions from investors in the past decade, according to an analysis of The Wall Street Journal based on data from PitchBook.
Executives who have co-founded Tesla, worked on its first-ever vehicle, Roadster, or presided over the Model 3 ramp-up, which Elon Musk himself has described as “production hell”, are now working at startups in the U.S. and Europe to advance battery manufacturing, battery recycling, luxury EV vehicles, and green hydrogen production.
The experience at Tesla has given them credibility with investors backing the startups now. Some of these startups have backers, including major investment banks and Bill Gates, for example. And partners include legacy carmakers such as Volkswagen and industry leaders in manufacturing processes such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
All these new companies are looking to boost America’s and Europe’s position in the supply chain of critical materials and battery components, currently dominated by China. Related: Saudi Arabia’s Crude Oil Exports Slump To 21-Month Low In June
Some of the most prominent examples of former Tesla executives who went on to found green businesses include Northvolt, the Swedish battery manufacturer co-founded by Peter Carlsson, a former Vice President Supply Chain at Tesla. Northvolt has raised $8 billion so far to scale up its battery manufacturing business in Europe. The company already has a gigafactory up and running in Sweden—Northvolt Ett, which made its first delivery of lithium-ion battery cells to a leading European car maker in May 2022.
Last year, Volvo Cars and Northvolt selected Gothenburg, Sweden, to establish a new 50 GWh battery manufacturing plant which will commence operations in 2025. Northvolt has secured more than $30 billion worth of contracts from customers, including BMW, Fluence, Scania, Volkswagen, Volvo Cars, and Polestar, to support its plans, which include establishing recycling capabilities to enable 50% of all its raw material requirements to be sourced from recycled batteries by 2030.
Redwood Materials, launched by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel, has secured over $1 billion in financing, per the Journal’s estimates. Nevada-based Redwood Materials looks to transform the battery supply chain by offering large-scale sources of domestic anode and cathode materials produced from recycled batteries that directly go back to U.S. cell manufacturers. Redwood Materials’ partners include Ford, Volkswagen Group of America, Panasonic, Volvo, Lyft, Toyota, and ERI.
Another ex-Tesla executive co-founded Sila Nanotechnologies, which works to create a nano-composite silicon (NCS) battery anode. Sila’s CEO Gene Berdichevsky was the lead engineer on the lithium-ion battery system for Tesla’s Roadster. Sila Nanotechnologies has raised $930 million in the past decade, per the Journal analysis.
Earlier this year, Sila announced the availability of its high-performance nano-composite silicon (NCS) anode, Titan Silicon, which, the company says, is the first market-proven, safe, and clean full graphite anode replacement engineered for mass scale to boost EV range and slash charge time.
Dorian West, a former director of engineering for Tesla’s Roadster, co-founded Electric Hydrogen, a company backed by investors including Breakthrough Energy Ventures of Bill Gates. Electric Hydrogen, whose partners include Equinor Ventures, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and Rio Tinto, among others, said earlier this year that its first factory in Devens, Massachusetts, would have an annual manufacturing capacity of 1.2GW with production of 100 MW green hydrogen electrolyzers commencing early next year.
Peter Rawlinson, who led engineering work of Tesla’s Model S, is now CEO at luxury EV maker Lucid. The company has struggled with losses and issues with ramping up manufacturing rates. Lucid has backing from the Saudi wealth fund PIF and said last week it is on track to manufacture more than 10,000 vehicles in 2023.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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