Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Vice President of Technology Drew Baglino have unveiled a new 4680 battery cell. The cell, which is already being produced at the company’s Kato Road pilot facility in Fremont, is the automaker’s big breakthrough in the company’s quest to create a more affordable electric car.
The two Tesla executives detailed the company’s new cell, which aims to not only decrease production costs, but also increase energy density, power, and range for its electric vehicles. The new tabless battery design will increase manufacturing efficiency, leading to decreased cost per kilowatt-hour.
Tesla’s new cell will decrease the amount of time needed to charge. This challenge was confronted by a balance of the cells’ outer diameter in millimeters described by the first two digits of the new cell.
Tesla showed where the tabless battery design was more efficient in terms of charging and size. The 46-millimeter tabless system showed to be most efficient in terms of charging efficiency. It was apparent by Tesla’s several graphics during the Battery Day event that a tabless cell was the best design as it would decrease the time of charging.
The 46 millimeters wide, 80-millimeter long battery cell will increase energy density by five times, increase range by sixteen percent, and improve power output by six times.
Additionally, Musk and Baglino indicated that the company is already working on producing the cell at the Kato Road facility. Tesla is “starting to ramp up production at our pilot 10 GWh factory just around the corner,” Musk said.
It will take around one year for the Kato Road facility to reach its 10 GWh production capacity.
The efficiency in the manufacturing process of the new cell will also reduce the price per kWh by 14%. This price reduction ultimately helps Tesla move closer toward the goal of price parity with gas-powered cars. To create a more affordable electric vehicle, battery cells must become cheaper to produce. Manufacturing cells in mass amounts and having them become readily available for vehicle production will decrease the cost of the car, and will lead to Tesla’s EVs being as affordable, or even more affordable, than gas-powered competitors.
The widely accepted number for price parity with gas vehicles is $100 per kWh. While it is unknown what the current cost is, a 14% reduction in cost would likely make Tesla’s cars as affordable as gas cars. The most recent estimates from Forbes have narrowed down Tesla’s most likely cost at $127 per kWh.
This is just the beginning. Tesla’s cell efficiency could reduce the cost per kWh by 14%, but the ultimate goal is to reduce it by 50%. This goal can be accomplished by increasing the manufacturing of cells through company factories, increasing the efficiency of anode and cathode materials, and cell vehicle integration.