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Tesla’s cobalt-light batteries seen providing cost advantage

Tesla Inc.’s lead in battery technology gives it a cost advantage that may last for several years and help the US electric-car maker face down an onslaught of new competition, according to new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Batteries made by the U.S. manufacturer and its Japanese partner, Panasonic Corp., require less cobalt, the metal whose price has shot up with demand for electric cars. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk on June 5 said Tesla is targeting a cell-level price of USD 100 per kilowatt-hour in 2018 and battery-pack costs below that level within two years. BNEF does not expect average pack prices to drop below USD 100 until 2025.

"If Tesla reaches its pack-price milestone, it will be several years ahead of our industry benchmark," BNEF said in the report. The researchers noted that others made batteries for as low as USD 120 per kilowatt hour in 2017, "which suggests that Tesla is not alone in being ahead of the curve."

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