Today was the day that the long-awaited Tesla battery day took place. A plethora of new Tesla updates and hints were given during this event. Here is a rundown of what happened.
Shareholder proposals: ethical concerns
Before the Battery day event, proposals were presented to Tesla shareholders. Interestingly, two of these were relating to human rights issues such as child labour in the PRC (People's Republic of Congo) in Cobalt mines. Another issue brought up was Tesla working conditions.
A Yearly Review
After these rather pessimistic proposals, Elon Musk took to the stage to give a rundown of the notable events in the last year. The first achievement he congratulated the Tesla China team for their hard work in getting a factory from a pile of dirt to a ramped production factory in only fifteen months. Elon even predicts that, over time, Giga Shanghai may produce up to one million vehicles per year.
He continued his statements going over the latest Tesla Impact report, mentioning Tesla's top of the range safety scores and its priority to transition the world to sustainable energy.
He expects that tesla will grow thirty to forty per cent in 2020, regardless of the current situation.
Autopilot Gets Better
He continued by mentioning Tesla's great improvements in the Autopilot and self-driving: Tesla engineers are now labelling 3-dimensional videos instead of two-dimensional pictures from each Tesla camera. This is expected to significantly improve the speed at which Tesla neural networks will learn, further improving the ability for cars to recognize and react to the road.
He finished these pre-event statements talking about the difficulty of bringing a product to volume production. Tesla had no difficulty coming up with vehicle prototypes, but designing the machine that makes the machine was the major hurdle. Musk even seemed to reference Nikola, the hydrogen vehicle designer. He said that other car companies had made prototypes but had not been able to bring those vehicles to production. This may not be a direct attack towards Nikola, but it could be Musk's clever way of saying I told you so.
After this year review began the real event. Musk came back to the stage.
Musk started by talking of the need for the world to transition to sustainable energy. He noted the importance of Tesla to produce solar. Tesla will now be talking in terms of TeraWatt hours instead of GigaWatt hours now. He emphasized the importance of producing a lot of energy storage to enable this transition.
Batteries need to be cheaper and easier to produce for this large scale production to occur. This will further reduce the price of EV's too, enabling Tesla to sell to every customer.
Tesla has rethought how cells are designed and manufactured.
Tesla will halve the price per kWh of its batteries over time.
They will use a tabless architecture that drastically simplifies manufacturing and allows for many thermal benefits, allowing for supercharging to happen without the battery overheating. These cells will be implemented into Tesla products over the next two years until all products eventually use this cell.
New Battery Cell
This is a massive breakthrough that improves performance enormously and allows for faster production. This cell will be called the 4680. It will hold five times more energy, generate six times more power and allow for an extra 16 per cent range. These cells have started to begin production, using new methods.
Tesla will be using a dry electrode method. This method will reduce the footprint and energy usage tenfold. This dry electrode process is not quite ready yet but Tesla is confident they will get there.
Beyond the electrode, the assembly lines will be able to create seven times more cells than previously. This is achieved through the extremely high-speed assembly. Tesla is aiming to be the best at manufacturing worldwide said Elon.
The third process Tesla will improve is formattion, the process in which battery cells are tested to see if they can handle charges. The costs will be decreased by 86 per cent and the footprint reduced by 75 per cent. Tesla plans to produce 100GWh in 2022 and then around 3 TWh per year in 2030 or earlier.
Tesla will change the chemistry of its batteries: it will use lithium, that can store nine times more energy than graphite although it expands fourfold when full of lithium, that damages the cell. Tesla will use raw silicon, allowing for the expansion and then add a special coating that will add allow for expansion. This will allow for an extra 20 per cent range to vehicles.
The next improvement is in the cathode: it will be cobalt-free, meaning that cobalt child miners will no longer be indirectly working for Tesla. The cathode will use nickel instead. This cathode will be manufactured using much less energy and producing no wastewater at all. This process also allows for recycling. Tesla will start producing cathodes in America, reducing the distance travelled by these materials by 80 per cent.
Tesla will use a sulfate-free lithium integration process reducing the cost of lithium by a third.
Tesla will be able to recycle most of the materials, it will start its own in house recycling process in Nevada, allowing for new batteries to come from old batteries.
The final improvement Tesla will use is the Giga Casting, a giant casting machine reducing the number of parts by 79. This allows for 40 per cent cost savings for the rear underbody. This giant casting was achieved with the help of a new alloy developed by the Tesla team. This will allow batteries to be placed inside the vehicle in a way that maximizes the number of cells you can fit inside it. The battery pack will become a structural part of the vehicle.
$25K Tesla Car and the Plaid Model S
Elon Musk also spoke of a $25,000 Tesla car, which doesn't have a name yet and is coming in 3 years. This is a great news for future Tesla owners as more people will be able to afford Tesla vehicles or electric vehicles in General. Another highlight of the Battery Day was that Elon Musk unveiled the new Plaid Model S with 520+ miles per single range, 200 miles per hour speed, 0-60 mph in less than 2 seconds and astonishing $139,000 price tag.
To Recap of the Battery Day
In total range will increase by 54%, the price per kWh will decrease by 56%. Tesla is confident that they will be able to produce vehicles for less money than internal combustion vehicles.
This is an amazing amount of improvements that will change the world. It literally will change how we see transport and energy. Tesla is improving on every front. Please share this news where you can and share your thoughts in the comments.
Guillaume Humbert a Torque News automotive journalist covering Tesla news. "The way he first heard about Tesla was when he accidentally found a livestream of one of Tesla's cars back in 2018. It may sound boring, except this car was cruising in space. Since then Humbert has been following the EV automaker closely. Any of Tesla's innovations make the future look environmentally more friendly. "I am now trying to share the hope Tesla spread and inspire others through my articles," says Humbert whom you can follow on Twitter at Thinking Enthusiast.