On September 14th our battery factory let us know it would be unable to obtain the LG Lithium cells necessary to manufacture the Flex Battery. This news was a major disappointment to say the least. Unfortunately, we could only be disappointed with ourselves.
It was common knowledge that LG had won a major contract with Tesla to provide battery cells to help the automaker meet exploding demand. We also heard, after the fact, that LG also won several massive government contracts for huge civil battery backup projects. When we announced the Flex system in May, the market for LG cells was flush, and everything looked really good for us, even though the pandemic had affected battery cell production worldwide. In September, this perfect storm hit, and LG announced a worldwide shortage in the type of Lithium cell we had planned to use for the Flex.
Again, hindsight being 20/20, we probably should have foreseen that LG would end up shifting a large portion of its manufacturing capacity away from the cells we use for the Flex in order to meet demand from Tesla. When we specced out the system in the beginning, all indications that battery cell supply would be the least of our worries. That proved false.
So, we found ourselves on the verge of starting production so we could start shipping in late October, and then slamming on the brakes. We put together a plan to add another leading Lithium cell supplier, Samsung, to the mix. In an extensive test by NASA, the LG and Samsung cells not only performed better than all other cells in the study, but also their test results were nearly identical.
With Samsung now in the mix, we will be able to procure all the Lithium cells we will need. This change does require some hardware and software modifications, and will also have to go through the UN certification process at a 3rd-party certification lab, all of which will add about 90 days to the development process.