Musk begs for people to refine lithium instead of 'making a picture sharing app'

Elon Musk and Zachary Kirkhorn said they have 'a lot of fish to fry' than lithium refining, but nobody else is doing it.

One of the biggest hurdles to production in the electric vehicle space has been battery production and steady supply of the lithium necessary to prepare the battery packs for them. Because it’s come up against these shortages frequently, Tesla has invested in lithium refining to ensure its own supply. However, during the Q1 2023 conference call today, Musk revealed this is a strenuous endeavor the company would rather not go through. Unfortunately, he also claims not enough companies are doing it, so Tesla continues to have to invest in lithium refining itself.

This statement was made during the Tesla (TSLA) Q1 2023 conference call which took place on April 19, 2023. In a conversation about the production challenges the company faces, the matter of lithium came up, used in the batteries and Megapacks of Tesla’s vehicles and products. There, Musk claimed that the company has bolstered its investment in lithium refinery to the point where he feels Tesla is one of the most productive companies in lithium refining in the world.

Tesla 4680 battery pack
Tesla has aggressively worked to bolster its lithium refining and ensure its supply for vehicle production.
Source: Tesla

However, immediately following that claim, Musk also said he would rather other companies would invest in and develop lithium refining, claiming Tesla would rather buy lithium from others rather than process the resource on its own.

“We’re here, ready to buy,” CFO Zachary Kirkhorn added.

This echoes sentiments Musk has shared in the past, claiming lithium refining may as well be a license to print money. Tesla has acted on this sentiment as well, eyeing locations in Texas for lithium refineries, as well as announcing a new Megafactory in Shanghai that will focus specifically on producing Megapack batteries.

Nonetheless, Musk continues to believe that the market for lithium refining is vastly underdeveloped and hugely necessary at this time and hopes that other companies will take up some of the burden of production. It will remain to be seen if that happens, but until then, Tesla seems set to continue taking on the burden until it doesn’t have to.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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