Elon Musk Teases Tesla Battery Day While Saying Bill Gates Has 'No Clue' About Electric Cars

Elon Musk's electric car giant Tesla is set to unveil innovations on the technology that powers its suite of vehicles early next week.

Known as "Battery Day," the billionaire CEO has long teased that his company is on the cusp of revealing news that could change the course of the EV industry, describing it in a Q1 2020 earnings call as "one of the most exciting days in Tesla's history."

On September 11, Musk teased on social media that the event would showcase "many exciting things," saying in the same thread that Bill Gates "has no clue" about electric vehicles after the Microsoft co-founder snubbed Tesla in a blog last month.

The Microsoft co-founder was brushed aside by Musk over the weekend after failing to directly mention Tesla in a post last month that was discussing electric pick-up trucks, ignoring the Cybertruck and instead referring to GM, Ford, Rivian and Bollinger.

Looking ahead, speculation is growing that Musk is set to discuss a "million mile" pack, a power source with the potential to last for years, enable faster charging and lower costs, the last of which could result in more affordable consumer options.

While no formal announcements have yet been made, the Tesla boss has continued to hype up the event and lay a breadcrumb trail via Twitter. Recent news emerging from Tesla partners has also provided glimpses of what could be behind the curtain.

Here's what we know so far about the imminent Tesla presentation.

What is Battery Day?

Broadly, it's exactly what it sounds like—a presentation based on showing off the new battery technology manufactured by Tesla or its business partners that will eventually be incorporated into its existing or upcoming ranges of electric vehicles. It is likely to be spearheaded by Musk himself, who typically handles main product reveals.

Great, so when is it?

Battery Day will take place on Tuesday, September 22, immediately after Tesla's 2020 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time. It will be streamed live, so keep an eye on Tesla's Twitter, website and YouTube.

What is likely to be revealed?

The news likely to generate the most headlines is a so-called "million mile" battery back, which would extend the range an electric vehicle can handle over its lifetime.

Musk said at a Tesla event last year that new batteries would likely go into production this year and would be "designed explicitly for one million miles of operation."

In theory, they will offer higher-capacity power packs at a reduced overall cost—which should bring down the cost for consumers, opening up the luxury brand to those who previously couldn't afford the financial barrier-to-entry. It may also cut recycling costs. Electrek reported in 2019 that Tesla was working on a "battery recycling system."

"Tesla's new tabless 'Roadrunner' in-house cell with 1 million mile/4000 charge cycle capacity will be the final solution to permanently shift cost economics from petrol cars to EVs. 'Battery Day' may go down as one of the most seminal moments in automotive & industrial history," tweeted one financial analyst, Mayur Thaker, on Saturday.

Reuters previously reported battery tech was being made by China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd. and "academic experts" recruited by Musk. The unit has reportedly found a way for batteries to store more energy for longer.

In June, a Tesla partner in China suggested it was already "ready to produce" such tech. This month, the Reno Gazette Journal reported that Panasonic—one battery-making partner—was expanding its presence inside Tesla's Nevada gigafactory.

The scope of Musk's ambitions does not appear limited to electric cars, however. The announcements during Battery Day may include his Tesla Energy division. In the Q2 2020 earnings call, the CEO noted the "energy business collectively is bigger than the automotive business" and said it was critical to have a "sustainable energy future."

What has Musk said about it?

At this point, lots of hype and not much substance. Speaking during earnings calls, Musk has been careful not to pre-empt the reveals being kept for the Battery Day event. Yet snippets of information can still be gleaned from his public comments.

"The real limitation on Tesla growth is cell production at an affordable price. That's the real limit. So that's why we're going to talk a lot more about this on Battery Day because this is a fundamental scaling constraint," Musk said in the July 22 call.

"And any part of that supply chain or pricing at the cell level will be the limiting factor. So whatever may be an error from mining to refining, those many steps that are refining to cathode and analog formation, cell formation, whatever the truck point is, that will set growth rate. So we expect to expand our business with Panasonic, with CATL, with LG, possibly with others. And there's a lot more to say on that front on Battery Day."

In January, after being asked about Battery Day, Musk said Tesla had to improve "total battery capacity" and scale production to "levels that people cannot even fathom today."

He said boosting battery production was "fundamental" because "if you don't improve battery production capacity, then you end up just shifting unit volume from one product to another and you haven't actually produced more electric vehicles."

From the comments, it could be assumed Tesla will focus on its growth of production, reducing the costs, business expansions and battery capacities. Ultimately, most will have to wait until next Tuesday to find out—but Musk has promised big.

"I think it's going to be a very compelling story that we have to present," the CEO said in January. "I think it's going to actually blow people's minds. It blows my mind."

 Elon Musk
Tesla head Elon Musk leaves after giving a statement to the press as he arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 3, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. Musk has teased "exciting" Battery Day announcements, set for September 22, 2020. Maja Hitij/Getty