Tesla’s 4680 Cells Prove Revolutionary As Refreshed Model Y Revealed To Have A Small 50KWh Battery Pack
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.
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, when the vehicle finally started deliveries we learned that the refreshed Model Y only has a 279-mile EPA range. This news came as a disappointment for many Tesla watchers.
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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, later on, the EV maker explained saying the reason the 4680 Model Y only has a 279-mile range is that Tesla chose to put a smaller battery pack.
At the time Tesla wrote…
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
Tesla’s statement cleared up some of the confusion. However, questions still remained as to the exact battery pack size of the 4680 Model Y. That is at least until today, a YouTube channel called Spoken Reviews was able to get their hands on the refreshed Model Y and according to the host, the Giga Texas-built Model Y only has a 50KWh battery pack.
Tesla doesn’t mention the battery pack size of the refreshed Model Y anywhere on the vehicle however, on the Tesla app the vehicle is branded as “50D”.
If you happen to be unfamiliar, before Tesla switched to naming its vehicles “Standard Range” “Long Range” & “Performance”, the EV maker used to name them using some combination of the letter “P”, “D”, and the size of the battery pack.
“P” and “D” stood for performance and dual motor respectively. So for example a Model S with a 100KWh battery pack, dual motors, and performance upgrades will be called Model S P100D.
So when we bring it back to the refreshed Model Y, we already know the vehicle has dual motors, and taking Telsa’s old naming convention, “50D” amounts to a dual motor 50KWh battery pack vehicle.
This makes the new Model Y, the Tesla with the smallest battery pack. The small size of the battery pack might be disappointing for some people however when you take into consideration the refreshed Model Y is able to get 279 miles of EPA range from such a small battery pack, then the vehicle becomes extremely impressive.
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In comparison, other vehicles in the Model Y’s segment such as the Mustang Mach E, Mercedes EQC, and Audi Etron all have EPA ranges (at least in their standard models) below 250miles but, with a battery pack ranging between 70 to 82 KWh respectively.
This makes the new Model Y significantly more efficient than any electric vehicle we have seen on the road. It also validates Tesla’s Battery Day pronouncement that the new 4680 cells and structural battery pack increase range by a whopping 54%.
On its own despite how exciting this news is, the refreshed Model Y with the 4680 cells is even more impressive. The refreshed Model Y currently has a combined 123 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivalent).
MPGe is the EPA’s efficiency measurement for electric vehicles. And using this measurement, the refreshed Model Y has a score in line with other Tesla vehicles with a much bigger battery pack.
This has led some individuals to speculate Tesla has put a much larger battery pack inside the refreshed Model Y however has chosen to software limit it at 50KWh. If true, this would mean, that the Giga Texas Model Y sometime in the future will get a software update that will increase the range to close to 400 miles.
Tesla has used the same strategy with the Model S before. The EV maker used to sell a 60KWh Model S that could later be upgraded to 75KWh for additional payment using an over-the-air software update.
— Torque News (@torquenewsauto) June 10, 2022
One possible reason Tesla decided to bring back software-limited battery packs with the refreshed Model Y could be to conserve demand for the “old” 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 4680 battery limitations, the EV maker will not be able to produce enough cells to satisfy the undoubtedly colossal demand the new vehicle would generate.
As of now, it’s difficult to pinpoint Tesla’s thinking when creating the refreshed Model Y. However, we will be sure to keep you posted as we get more information. Until then, make sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest updates.
So what do you think? Excited to see the refreshed Model Y coming in significantly more efficiently than Tesla’s other vehicles? Also, do you prefer the 4680 Model Y to the “old” Model Y? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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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.