Breaking Down Battery Day

September 23, 2020

The Verge:

Here are the main takeaways from Tesla’s 2020 battery day: 

Tabless Batteries Will Improve Tesla’s Range

Tesla plans to manufacture its own “tabless” batteries, which will improve its vehicles’ range and power. The new batteries will be produced in-house, which Musk says will reduce costs and bring the sale price of Tesla electric cars closer to gasoline-powered cars. It’s expected to lower Tesla’s cost per kilowatt hour, a key metric used to measure electric vehicles’ battery packs. The tabless cells (Tesla is removing the tab that connects the cell and what it’s powering), which Tesla is calling the 4860 cells, will make its batteries six times more powerful and increase range by 16 percent. 

Tesla currently sources its batteries from Panasonic, and is likely to keep doing so for some time, but moving battery production in house has been on Musk’s to-do list for some time; in 2018 a shortage of those cells added to production delays. Musk has said the pace of battery production at Panasonic had slowed production of both the Model 3 and the Model Y. 

Model S Plaid will cost $139,990 and be Available in 2021

Musk has been teasing the Plaid powertrain for a while, which will be a step above its Ludicrous model. It will have a range between charges of 520 miles, get from 0-60 mph in under two seconds, and a top speed of 200 mph. The price is listed on Tesla’s website at $139,990. Musk had noted in the past that a Plaid trim level would “cost more than our current offerings,” which it does. It will be available in the Model S in late 2021. 

A New Cathode Plant is Coming … Eventually

Musk said Tesla will build a new cathode plant for its batteries in North America, part of its quest to reduce supply chain costs and simplify cathode production. It’s also making improvements to its process that will make cathodes 76 percent cheaper, and produce zero wastewater. The company also plans to diversify the cathodes it uses, because of low nickel supplies.

Greentech Media:

After much Muskian fanfare, Tesla’s Battery Day revealed a smattering of improvements to cut battery prices in half.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists he measures the company’s success by the extent to which it accelerates the arrival of sustainable energy. Powering electric cars and running a grid on renewable electricity requires a drastic expansion of battery production. The meat of Battery Day was Musk’s step-by-step breakdown of the battery production process to squeeze cost out and raise productivity.

All told, the series of advances will yield a 54 percent increase in range, a 56 percent decrease in the dollar per kilowatt-hour pack price, and a decrease in capital investment required for manufacturing.

The implementation of these improvements will take more than a year, and could take three years for full realization, Musk said.

“If we could do this instantly, we would,” Musk told the crowd, socially distanced in Tesla cars like a drive-in theater. “It just really bodes well for the future.”

The transparency around the fact that the improvements were not yet fully in effect marked a change from past Tesla events, which portrayed new products as fully formed when they weren’t. But instead of flashy product unveilings, Musk stayed true to the framing of Battery Day, delving into the particularities of cathode and anode design, lithium supply chains and custom-cast aluminum alloy battery enclosures.

All the subject-matter expertise adds up to one big takeaway: cheaper electric cars and cheaper energy storage.

One Response to “Breaking Down Battery Day”

  1. Jasper Bozo Says:

    IMO this was a historic event.
    1. Battery cost and performance will obsolete internal combustion engines in 3-5 years
    2. Fossil fuel transport has peaked
    3. Tesla, love it or not, is a forcing function for change and is primarily responsible for accelerating electrification
    4. They have introduced genuine rapid innovation to the car industry which has been shown to be totally unprepared for it
    5. I have run a production line. Battery Day showed Tesla has made historic improvements in chemistry, material science, manufacturing process, and product integration. These were 5-10 years in the making.
    6. Legacy car makers have all the obvious competitive problems. They also need to financially write off their ICE production lines, their ICE engine and transmission assets, retool their infrastructure, and retrain/reshape their personnel. Tesla is built for purpose, legacy car makers are not. Some will not survive.
    7. Tesla is scaling rapidly and more efficiently than anyone else

    Do not want to bore with endless comment, but Battery Day was a very big deal that killed ICE and Hydrogen as batteries are going to be the cheaper,better, faster solution. Barring an execution face plant, the future has been set and it will play out over this decade.

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