Tesla’s 4680 battery cell was announced back in 2020 during the company’s Battery Day event, when the automaker claimed a potential cost reduction of up to 50 percent compared to the current 2170-format cell.
Moreover, the larger cell provides a more rigid structure that’s suitable for the EV maker’s structural battery pack that was occasionally used in some units of the Model Y and is on track to become a part of the upcoming Cybertruck as well.
Since announcing it three years ago, Tesla has been hard at work trying to increase the production numbers for this new type of battery cell and it got some impressive results along the way, managing to reach nearly one million cells per week at the end of last year at the Fremont pilot facility.
Gallery: Tesla 4680 Batteries
However, this is far from enough for what Tesla has in mind for the future, partly because of a manufacturing process that’s pretty hard to get right – a problem for which the American EV maker apparently has an answer, by hiring an expert last month.
Now, in a conference call that followed Tesla’s Q1 2023 earnings call, the company’s senior vice president of engineering, Drew Baglino, offered some much-needed and detailed updates on the 4680 cell:
“For the Cell Factory, for the Texas 4680 factory, we are part way through building and commissioning and installing and operating, will be 70% lower capex per gigawatt hour than typical cell factories when fully ramped in line with what we described on Battery Day. And we’re continuing to further pursue densification and investment reduction opportunities in future factory buildouts like in Nevada.”
Regarding the actual production of the 4680 cell type, Baglino had this to say:
“On the cell design, we’re in production with not only the first generation tabless cell we unveiled on Battery Day, but a second more manufacturable version in Texas today. On the cathode material side, we have a number of activities underway per the Battery Day roadmap. For lithium, our Corpus Christi Lithium Refinery breaks ground this May. Our goal is to start commissioning portions of the facility for the end of the year. The refinery uses the sulfate-free refining process with reduced process costs, no acid or caustic reagents, and lower embodied energy. It actually produces a beneficial byproduct that can be re-purposed in construction materials.”
He then added that the priority is now to reduce the cost of production as much as possible in preparation for the Cybertruck production ramp-up, which is expected to happen at the beginning of 2024:
“On Texas production, we increased 50% quarter-over-quarter, through yields increased 12% and peak rate increased by 20% and through yields improved by 20%. Altogether, the team accomplished a 25% reduction in COGS over the quarter and we are on track to achieve steady-state cost targets over the next 12 months. And going forward for the rest of the year, the priority one is to yield in cost for the 4680 program as we steadily ramp production ahead of Cybertruck next year.”
With all this being said, it looks like Tesla is on track to make its 4680 battery cells at much higher rates than before. But we’d like to know what you think about all of this, so please head over to the comments section below to give us your thoughts.
Source: Tesla via Electrek
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