Tesla’s Kato Road facility, which has been largely responsible for the production of the 4680 battery cell, has been undergoing improvements since the beginning of the year, filings show.
The Kato Road facility is largely under the radar in terms of Tesla news, especially as the rollout and ramp-up of the 4680 cells are still underway.
Unveiled in September 2020 at Battery Day, the 4680 battery is set to increase range and power in Tesla vehicles and could be produced by some suppliers in pilot lines as soon as this May.
Since the beginning of 2023, Tesla has made several improvements to the facility, which has reached a production level last updated by the automaker in December of 868,000 cells, or enough for 1,000 cars.
In January, Tesla expanded its Materials Lab. The revisions helped add more room for research and development of the cell, filings seen by Teslarati showed. Additionally, Tesla added tooling equipment and a revised floor plan to house this equipment.
Tesla also updated exterior break areas for employees in February.
In March, Tesla added onto one portion of the building, listed as the ERL Chamber, which is where companies usually test lithium-ion battery cells. The filings show that Tesla added two new chambers and demolished another. The two new chambers are housed in a 5,000-square-foot area in the building and are provided with necessary piping, electrical power, and seismic anchorage, the filings state.
The most recent improvements were filed yesterday and added a new Hydraulic Power Unit and two new Post Lifts. This could be to support a recent expansion, as the filings show there is a “newly expanded bed plate.”
Kato Road has been the catalyst to 4680 battery cell production and has continued to help the automaker ramp up its initial manufacturing phases. Gigafactory Texas is also has a 4680 production line, and Drew Baglino, Tesla’s Senior VP of Powertrain and Energy Engineering, has stated that he expected the production to surpass 1,000 vehicles per week by the end of 2022.
Tesla could have suppliers like LG and Panasonic help supplement 4680 availability initially. Last year, Panasonic energy business CEO Kazuo Tadanobu said that large-scale prototype production would likely begin in May 2023, with mass production slated for early 2024.
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