Tesla 4680 Battery Explained

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - August 9, 2022
Tesla Cybertruck

A few years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the automaker had made a breakthrough with new battery cells. Its new 4680 cells, were promised to bring more range, while simultaneously reducing production costs. The cells sounded like Tesla’s magic bullet and would be crucial to Tesla’s large vehicles like the Cybertruck pickup truck and Semi semi-truck. While Tesla’s 4680 battery cells were supposed to help Tesla launch its Cybertruck and Semi truck, a few Model Y SUVs built at the automaker’s new plant in Austin, Texas are being delivered with the batteries.

Tesla’s 4680 battery is aptly named because it has a 46-millimeter diameter and an 80-millimeter height. Compared to the current 2170 battery cell that’s built as part of a joint venture between Tesla and Panasonic, the 4680 battery cell is five times larger. The larger 4680 battery cell brings a 16% increase in range over the 2170 cell, though Tesla believes that improvements in battery materials and vehicle design could result in a 56% increase in range.

The 4680 battery cell may be a large upgrade over the current 2170 cell, but Tesla’s having a hard time manufacturing the battery cell. In a recent earnings call, Musk stated that its 4680 battery cell won’t be important until next year. “To be clear, we are currently making the cars with the 2170 cells,” said Musk on an earnings call with Automotive News. “But it is worth emphasizing that we have enough 2170 cells to satisfy all vehicle production or the remainder of the year. So we’re not dependent on 4680. 4680 will be important next year.”

Tesla’s on a tight timeline to try and ramp up production of the 4680 battery cell to use in Texas-built Model Ys and the delayed Cybertruck, reports Auto News. While the Cybertruck doesn’t need Tesla’s 4680 battery cell to operate, the automaker has promised the truck will have spectacular figures, which is really only possible with the 4680 cells. Without the cells, Tesla may not be able to reach its claimed figures.

2022 Tesla Model Y

“Tesla promised extreme performance of the Cybertruck at its introduction, and the 4680 cells are necessary to reach those promises,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global forecasting at AutoForcast Solutions. A lock of the new cells would slow the acceptance of the truck just as other trucks are making it to the market.”

Andrew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, the automaker is aiming to make at least 1,000 4680 battery packs a week by the end of 2022. At the moment, the battery cells coming from Tesla’s plant in Texas don’t have all of the material or manufacturing improvements that Tesla plans to offer in the future. The automaker is looking to get basics down pat before moving to high volume and to “enhance the energy density and reduce the cost of the cell,” stated Baglino.

Earlier this February, Tesla stated that it had manufactured a total of 1 million 4680 cells since opening its new factory in Fremont, CA. That figure is enough to make 1,200 EVs. With Tesla having trouble getting production of the 4680 battery cell to where it wants to be and the automaker focusing on the basics, it could be why vehicles like the Cybertruck and Semi have been delayed.

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, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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