Tesla recently held an epic party to mark the opening of the company’s newest Gigafactory in Austin, Texas. The event so-called Cyber Rodeo featured everything from Tesla’s latest redesigned Cybertruck prototype to the first mention of a “futuristic dedicated robotaxi” Tesla is building; to drone formation featuring DogeCoin; and everything in between.
And one surprise announcement that came during the party was that Tesla held a delivery event for Model Y’s produced at the factory. At the event, Musk said, the vehicles come with Tesla’s newest 4680 batteries and a structural battery pack.
The 4680 cells and the structural battery pack architecture are seen as the holy grail of EV adoption. According to Tesla’s Battery Day presentation, all the cell chemistry, design, and manufacturing advancements that come with the 4680 cells amount to a 54% improvement in range, 56% improvement in cost per kilowatt-hour, and a 69% reduction in capital expenditure.
The 4680 cells are also better for the environment due to a new, Tesla pioneered, lithium extraction and mining technique, dry electrode formation, use of silicon anode, and many more breakthroughs.
Considering all these advancements, it’s thought that Giga Texas-made Model Y will be Tesla’s most profitable vehicle to date. Especially when we take into account that the EV maker has priced the refreshed Model Y close to the same price as the current Model Y.
This is all wonderful on paper however, one disappointment with the refreshed Model Y is how little range the vehicle has. Given all these advancements and based on Elon Musk’s statements we were predicting when it finally begins production the refreshed Model Y will have a 475-mile range.
However, according to Tesla Raj who was able to get into the new Model Y at the Cyber Rodeo event, the vehicle is all-wheel drive and has a 279-mile range. This has sent shockwaves throughout the Tesla community.
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Most were dumbfounded trying to figure out how Tesla’s most advanced cells have produced a Model Y variant with the shortest range. Currently, at least in the US, the Model Y variant with the shortest range is the Performance Model Y, with a 303-mile range.
As a result, some EV watchers have even gone so far as to conclude Tesla’s Battery Day presentation was a lie. However, the EV maker has now explained why the 4680 Model Y only has a 279-mile range.
The information was shared by Tesla enthusiast Whole Mars Catalog and the EV maker’s statement opens with a rhetorical question asking “why does Model Y AWD have a lower range and acceleration despite having the new 4680 battery cells?”
Tesla’s answer continues to explain…
Introducing the new cells meant introducing a new variant of the Model Y. We’ve designed Model Y AWD [Tesla’s name for the refreshed Model Y] to have an attractive combination of range, performance, and price that will be the best fit for many customers and will make Model Y accessible to more customers, furthering our mission. Those interested in an even more capable Model Y should explore Model Y Long Range & Performance. We have chosen to put a lower energy battery pack in Model Y AWD, resulting in a lower range, acceleration, and price point.
Some people asked why the first Model Y with 4680 cells and a structural pack has less range. This is because Tesla chose to start with a version that has a smaller battery pack (less energy capacity) than the existing long range. long range 4680 Y is coming in the future too pic.twitter.com/8e5o6PbZch— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) April 13, 2022
If you missed it, the last part is the key. We were expecting the refreshed Model Y to have a 475-mile range with the assumption Tesla will put the same size battery pack in the new vehicles. However, according to Tesla’s statement, the EV maker has chosen to put a smaller battery pack in the refreshed Model Y.
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Tesla deciding to start a 4680 cell vehicle production with a smaller battery pack makes a whole lot of sense. First, the EV maker has said on multiple occasions that the number one constraint on Tesla’s growth is a lack of batteries.
So by designing a smaller 4680 battery pack, Tesla will be able to produce more vehicles per given amount of cells.
Second, this also allows Tesla not to kill demand for the current Model Y. If Tesla was to come out with a Model Y variant, with 400 plus mile range, under 3 seconds acceleration, and priced cheaper than the current Model Y, then demand will shift entirely to the new vehicle.
In principle, this isn’t entirely bad since Tesla is continuously trying to disrupt its own products. However, due to the battery limitations, the EV maker will not be able to produce enough cells to satisfy the undoubtedly colossal demand there will be for the new vehicle.
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Even though disappointed to see the first Tesla with the revolutionary 4680 cells is the Tesla with the shortest range, I personally completely support and understand Tesla’s decision.
Elon Musk speaking at the Giga Texas opening event has said 2022 will be about scaling production to incredible levels. So hopefully, this year Tesla will be able to quickly grow 4680 battery production so that we won’t have to wait long until we see a Tesla product that can take full advantage of all the advancements of the new battery.
As of now, we don’t know when the new product is coming and what form it will take but, we will be sure to keep you posted as we learn more about Tesla’s plans. Until then, make sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
So what do you think? Disappointed with the range figures for the first 4680 Tesla? Also, what is your view of Tesla’s approach of transitioning to the 4680 throughout its product lineup? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image: Taken From Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo Stream
For more information check out: Pressure Mounts On Elon Musk To Stop Using Russian Gas At Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory
Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news.