Tesla Battery Day recap: Tesla's new battery technology explained!
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0:00 Tesla's Battery Plan
1:01 Cell Design
2:39 Cell Factory
4:09 Anode Materials
4:41 Cathode Materials
6:06 (Sponsor) Brilliant
7:00 Cell Vehicle Integration
8:24 Tesla's Future Products
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Tesla Battery Day showed some exciting battery technology breakthroughs that will change the future of electric cars by massively scaling battery production and producing more affordable battery cells. Tesla focuses on vertical integration with a 5-step plan to cut the cost of batteries in half.
Step 1: Cell Design. The last time Tesla released a new battery was in 2017 with their 2170 cell that started shipping in the Model 3. To move to the next step in battery cell design, Tesla needs bigger cylindrical cells because those cost less. This brings us to Tesla’s brand new biggest battery cell ever: the 4680 "tab-less" cell which brings a huge amount of improvements including: simpler manufacturing, fewer parts, and 5x reduction in electrical path. Tesla's new 4680 battery cells also have 5x the amount of energy, 16% more range, 6x the power, and faster Supercharging. These benefits are the core to what will move Tesla toward their overall mission: making their vehicles more affordable, making their vehicles travel further, and making their vehicles charge faster.
Step 2: Cell Factory. The typical "wet" process is complicated and lengthy where powders are mixed with solvent then they have to go into a dry oven. Tesla's newer “dry” process is a much simpler process which makes the powder directly into film. This sounds great, but Elon made it clear that this is very difficult and they’re still refining the process especially to scale. The biggest benefits of dry battery electrode are a 10x footprint reduction and 10x energy reduction
Step 3: Anode Materials. Tesla loves Silicon. It’s the most abundant element in Earth's crust after oxygen, and it stores 9x more lithium than graphite. However, Silicon expands so after many cycles it starts to crumble and gets “gooey”. To fix this, Tesla plans to design for expansion and use raw silicon then stabilize the surface through an elastic coating which will increase vehicle range by 20% and lead to cheaper electric vehicles.
Step 4: Cathode Materials. A battery needs a stable structure to contain the ions. If there isn’t a stable structure the battery loses cycle life and degrades quickly. Cobalt is stable, but has its ethical and environmental woes. Tesla believes Nickel will solve this problem. Nickel is the cheapest metal and has the highest energy density, but Nickel needs to be stabilized. Tesla aims to maximize nickel and remove cobalt which should lead to 15% reduction in cathode cost. Tesla is also taking advantage of nickel and lithium mining for cathode production in North America. There is significant lithium in clay (enough lithium in Nevada to convert all the gasoline vehicles in the US to electric). Tesla has discovered a sustainable, environmentally friendly way of getting lithium by using table salt to extract the lithium. This new sulfate-free process has a 33% reduction in lithium cost.
Step 5: Cell Vehicle Integration. Tesla's new vehicle architecture starts with single piece castings of high pressure die cast aluminum for the front and rear which leads to a 40% cost savings in the rear underbody and a reduction of 79 parts per car, using no heat treating or coatings. These castings will be connected to their new Structural Battery which is Tesla's first ever dual-use battery (used as an energy device and as a structure to the car). These structural batteries improve mass and range. The simpler, smaller, integrated battery + body factory of the future leads to 10% mass reduction, 14% range increase opportunity, and 370 fewer parts.
After all steps Tesla can achieve a 56% reduction in price per kWh, vehicle range increase of 54%, and a reduction in investment per GWh of 69%. This means electric vehicle powertrains should cost less than combustion engines in the near future. They also hinted at a fully autonomous $25,000 Tesla coming in a few year. They also announced a brand new $140,000 Plaid Model S that goes 0-60 in less than 2 seconds and 1/4 mile in less than 9 seconds, with 520 miles of range.
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