Just days before Tesla releases official details for Model 3, including battery pack sizes and their respective driving range, a new rumor has emerged pointing to a new “4416” lithium ion battery cell being produced by the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker.
The news comes to us from Ben Sullins at Teslanomics who received an insider tip that Tesla has produced a significantly larger cylindrical battery cell that’s roughly 44mm in diameter and 160mm in height, also known as a 44160 cell, and currently being used in the Model 3 battery pack. The new information goes against previous speculation that Tesla will be using it’s newest high energy density 2170 cell in the Model 3. Tesla’s Gigafactory is currently producing 2170 cells for use in its commercial Powerwall and Powerpack battery storage systems.
We had previously reported that Model 3 will be available in a 60 kWh and 75 kWh battery pack option. Unlike Tesla’s flagship Model S and X which currently utilizes its traditional 18650 battery cell, packaged within 16 individual battery modules, Model 3 will utilize only 4 modules containing the much larger and higher energy density 44160 cell.
Though the new insider tip is highly speculative, a new cell design with higher energy density would validate Musk’s previous reveal that Model 3’s shorter wheelbase can only support up to a 75 kWh pack if used with Tesla’s current cell type. Musk also recently confirmed that their are no plans to use the 2170 cells in Model S and Model X vehicles.
The shorter wheelbase only allows for a 75 kWh pack in Model 3 at current cell/module energy densities
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 24, 2017
A larger and more energy dense 44160 lithium ion cell would allow Tesla to presumably use less cells, lower battery pack weight, while achieving the same energy output. This would also explain why recent spy shots showing the battery meter on the Model 3 center display revealed that it was capable of over 300 miles of range from a 75 kWh pack. A lighter vehicle with a more energy dense battery pack means greater range.
Model 3’s assumed 310 mile driving range represents nearly a 20% increase over a Model S 75 which achieves 259 miles of range with a 75 kWh battery. Incidentally, Tesla confirmed that Model S 75 in rear wheel drive will be discontinued, fueling even more speculation that Tesla could be bringing 44160 cells to future Model S and Model X vehicles that are due for a refresh.
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Check out today’s Monday Teslanomics Live News where Ben discusses his thoughts around the topic.