Tesla’s Battery Day

Sep 22, 2020   

Goal One: Terawatt-hour Scale Battery Production

  • A Terawatt is 1000x more than a Gigawatt, which Tesla previously focused on.
  • It would take 20-25 Terawatt hours per year sustained for 20-25 years to transition the world to renewable energy.
  • Goal One Problem: Today’s battery factories cannot scale fast enough.

    Goal Two: More Affordable Cells

  • Tesla’s goal is to release a “truly affordable” vehicle in the future
  • The curve of cost per kWh is not improving fast enough
  • “We have a plan to halve the cost of kWh”
  • Tesla thought through every element of the battery to make it more affordable.
  • A battery confines negative and positive terminals, with a tab and a jelly roll
  • When the cell is discharged, lithium moves from cathode to anode; conversely, when a cell is charged lithium moves from anode to cathode
  • Going forward, Tesla is using 2179 batteries (bringing 50% more energy into the cell compared to 1865)
  • “The challenge with big cells is Supercharging”
  • Tesla engineering developed tab-less larger cells with a better power to weight ratio, “massive breakthrough”
  • New cell design 4680: 5x energy, +16% range, 6x power (these numbers refer only to this particular innovation, the total improvement is even higher once cumulatively added up)
  • 14% reduction in cost with the new cell design
  • Cell factories contain an electrode process, winding, assembly, and formation
  • Electrode – Wet Process: water or solvent mixing, coat and dry oven, solvent recovery, then coated foil is compressed to the final density
  • Dry Electrode process brings significant savings, but “simple is hard”
  • 7x increase in line output with a new high-speed continuous motion assembly
  • Fremont is at 2-3% volume efficiency, possible to be 10x better
  • Goal is to achieve with one factory what it would normally take 5-10 factories to achieve
  • Every car company will eventually have long-range electric cars and autonomy, but Tesla wants to be above every other company in manufacturing
  • Formation: initial process of charging and discharging cells
  • 75% reduction in formation footprint
  • 4x better than the current state-of-the-art electronics
  • Now possible to get a terawatt hour in less space than 150 gigawatt hours
  • The change in anode materials lends itself to a 32% total reduction in cost
  • Tesla is designing around silicon expansion, and using raw silicon to increase range by 20%
  • Tesla silicon: $1.2/kWh
  • Another 5% reduction brings the total reduction to 37%
  • Maximize nickel, remove cobalt for a 15% reduction in cobalt costs
  • Directly consuming nickel powder eliminates billions in mining/recycling
  • Localizing the cathode supply chain and production reduces miles traveled by 80%
  • Sulfate-free process: 33% reduction in lithium cost
  • There’s enough lithium on earth to convert every car to electric
  • Significant untapped lithium in clay
  • Tesla discovered it’s possible to obtain lithium from ore using table salt (using a very environmentally sensitive mining process)
  • Recycling elements from cells is far more desirable than from raw ores
  • Recycled cells: 20% nickel, 2.7% lithium, 2% cobalt
  • Long-term: new batteries will come from old batteries
  • Additional 12% reduction brings the kWh cost reduction to 49%
  • Single-piece casting for the front body and rear body, Tesla commissioned the “largest casting machine that’s ever been made”
  • Tesla developed their own alloy that requires no heat treating or coatings
  • The front and rear of the car is manufactured as a single piece, with the battery also serving as a structural use
  • Structural batteries improve mass and range, with more densely-packed cells
  • “The pack itself is structural,” cells are glued to the top and bottom sheets.
  • Revolution in Body + Battery engineering: 10% mass reduction, 14% range increase opportunity, 370 fewer parts
  • “Long-term any cars that do not take this architecture will not be competitive”
  • 55% reduction in investment per GWH (Gigawatt hour)
  • Total benefits of Tesla’s new battery cells:
    54% increase in range
    56% reduction in cost per kWh
    69% reduction in investment per GWH


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