The Tesla Semi could face battery production limits as cell production fights already high demand.
Tesla has long faced an overarching problem, too much demand, and too little supply. No other car maker on the planet can say that there are multi-month (and sometimes year) long waiting lists for every vehicle they manufacture. But as Tesla hopes to introduce the Tesla Semi by the end of the year, they may only exacerbate their already supply-constrained production numbers.
Breaking it down by the numbers gives a better picture of the battery cell issue the Tesla Semi could face. Tesla’s 4680 cells each have an energy capacity of 98Wh; for context, 828 cells are needed to make a single Tesla Model Y with an 81.1kWh battery. With this capacity-per-cell spec and the specs that have been published by Tesla about the Tesla Semi, we can estimate the capacity of the truck’s (likely enormous) battery.
The Tesla website states that the Tesla Semi, while fully laden, will have a max range of 500 miles and use under 2kWh per mile. Assuming a worst-case scenario where the truck uses exactly 2kWh per mile for 500 miles, the Tesla Semi would have a battery capacity of 1000kWh. And even if the Tesla Semi could achieve 1kWh per mile, the battery would be 500kWh.
At 1000kWh, or 1 million Wh, this would require 10,204 Tesla 4680 cells or 5102 cells for the 500kWh battery. This enormous amount of cells could be used on 12 Tesla Model Y batteries.
Perhaps more interestingly, from the battery capacity, you can also infer the charging speed that Tesla will aim for. The Tesla Semi site advertises charging “up to 70% of range in 30 minutes.” Assuming the 1000kWh battery, and even if Tesla is referring to charging from 10% to 70% (a 60% gain or 600kWh of energy), the charger would have to output 1,200kWh (1.2MWh) of power to achieve that or 600kWh for the 500kWh battery.
However, this leads to more questions than answers. Will Tesla cap Tesla Semi production to protect their consumer offerings? Will Tesla consumer vehicles shift away from 4680 cells? Or will Tesla vastly expand battery cell production to keep up with demand for all of its products? Tesla has not indicated any changes, but facing brutal math, they may be forced to make some hard decisions.
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