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Tesla and SpaceX ramp up synergy with workers moving, battery purchases, and more

Tesla and SpaceX are ramping up their synergy effort with workers moving between Elon Musk’s two companies, battery purchases, and more.

Musk has previously noted that while it’s hard and time-consuming to run two massive multi-billion-dollar companies with thousands of employees in two completely different sectors, he has found some positives, like opportunities for synergy between them.

For example, we previously reported that Tesla and SpaceX are partnering up to create new materials to use on Earth and in space.

One of the most high-profile examples of synergy between the two companies is Musk’s plan to have a “SpaceX package” in the new Tesla Roadster that will include cold air trusters developed by SpaceX.

Since Tesla is a public company, they have to report transactions between them and companies owned or operated by members of the board or executives.

In a recent filing, Tesla listed several transactions with SpaceX showing that the latter is ramping up buying parts from the former.

For example, SpaceX has been buying batteries from Tesla:

SpaceX purchased certain battery components from Tesla at an aggregate purchase price of $1.0 million in 2019, and at an aggregate purchase price of $1.2 million in 2020 through April. The pricing for such components was negotiated in good faith.

SpaceX has bought more batteries from Tesla in the first four months of 2020 than it did all of last year.

We previously reported on SpaceX using Tesla battery packs in the new “Starship” Mars vehicle prototype.

The rocket manufacturer has also ramped up its purchase of other vehicle parts from Tesla in 2020:

SpaceX has purchased certain non-battery vehicle parts from Tesla from time to time from a standard parts catalog that is also available to other business partners. Such parts are offered to all buyers, including SpaceX, at uniform prices. SpaceX purchased an aggregate $0.6 million of such parts in 2019 and an aggregate $0.6 million of such parts in 2020 through April.

We noted that SpaceX has also been using Tesla electric motors on some of its vehicles.

Tesla also disclosed that they came to an agreement with SpaceX to build a tool for them at its own tooling facility for $700,000:

In 2020, Tesla agreed to build a custom tool for SpaceX at its tool machining facility at an estimated cost of $0.7 million. The pricing for such project, including labor hours, was negotiated in good faith, and such work will take place during previously scheduled downtime at Tesla’s facility.

Interestingly, Tesla is also reporting that they “temporarily assign approximately 20 of its employees to support SpaceX.”

The automaker wrote in the filing:

In 2020, Tesla agreed to temporarily assign approximately 20 of its employees to support SpaceX on certain technical matters, for which SpaceX will pay Tesla an estimated $0.1 million.

Aside from Musk, who is CEO of both companies, and his direct staff, the only other known official employee of both companies is alloy expert Charles Kuehmann who leads materials engineering at both companies.

Finally, SpaceX has also been buying Tesla Energy equipment:

In 2020 and 2019, SpaceX purchased certain Tesla Energy equipment and services from Tesla for $0.3 million and $0.3 million, respectively, through standard sales processes. The prices were negotiated in good faith.

We previously reported on Tesla delivering a Powerpack system to SpaceX’s new spaceport in 2018, but it looks like the rocket manufacturer keeps buying products from Tesla’s energy division.

Of note, Tesla also disclosed selling some Tesla Energy products to board members. James Murdoch purchased a $600,000 Powerpack system from Tesla and charged $400,000 to “a company affiliated” with Larry Ellison to produce a “preliminary design” for “the potential future implementation of a Tesla Energy system.”

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