Fortune

Tesla’s road to a cheaper electric car has always appeared to lead straight to Reno, where the electric automaker is building a $5 billion gigafactory designed with enough capacity to reduce the per-kilowatt-hour cost of its lithium-ion battery packs by over 30% by the end of 2017.

Many companies are already planning concepts around the promise of cheaper, higher-capacity batteries. But, it turns out that Tesla[fortune-stock symbol=”TSLA”] has more than one path toward its ultimate goal of an electric car that’s 50% cheaper than its luxury Model S.

The newest direction Tesla is headed toward is silicon—not the Valley, but the material that is changing the way batteries are made. Tesla’s new 90 kilowatt-hour battery pack—an upgrade announced Friday that increases pack energy by 5% and adds about 15 miles of range to its vehicles—might look the same. But the inclusion of silicon is an advance for lithium-ion technology.

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