It looks like Boston Power is set to take on Tesla, as the company recently announced $290 million in “financial support” from Chinese government agencies to help scale its battery factories into the gigawatt range. According to Greentech Media, Boston Power’s CEO pretty much said the same, stating the company’s goal of “competing with Elon Musk” in the deployment of batteries for electric vehicles. The company says the latest funding will let it significantly expand its plant in Tianjin, China up to 8 GW of capacity by 2018.
Although based in the U.S., Boston Power has moved most of its operations to China, with the exception of research and development. With just 50 employees in Boston and over 500 in China, it’s clear where the company’s focus lies. “Capex costs for a battery factory in China are cheaper than building a factory in Reno, Nevada,” where Tesla is possibly building their new factory on land obtained for free, according to GreenTechMedia.
Boston Power’s batteries are a lithium-cobalt make-up and have an improved casing, anode, cathode and other battery components, which the company says will increase battery life, allow more cycles, and enable a faster charge. CEO Sonny Wu “is enthusiastic about the $35 billion Chinese EV market, with demand for “high-end lithium-ion batteries hitting 100 gigawatt-hours.” Wu says that China is facing battery supply constraints that Boston Power hopes to address.
Wu says that their new battery has a longer life than Tesla’s, with a 200 watt-hour capacity. And the batteries are designed for Chinese automakers who are creating new electric vehicles that the Chinese can afford – cars with an $8,000 price tag instead of a $40,000 one like luxury SUVs and sedans in the U.S. The market is being driven by those in China who already own electric scooters but would like to be able to travel a little further or with their family or groceries in the car — a car that can plug into any outlet.