Tesla has updated the information on its progress in the production of 4680 cells that should be part of the batteries of its electric cars. When they were announced not so long ago they were presented as a milestone in the innovation of this component, which would revolutionize manufacturing costs and vehicle efficiency. However, the difficulties involved in some manufacturing processes are in fact delaying its implementation, which began with the Model Y that is currently being manufactured in Giga-Texas, Austin. The fact is that the new statement actually includes contradictory arguments: it announces progress in ramp up production on one hand, while on the other hand it also refers to a reduction on its dependence.
Back in 2020, the now famous Battery Day was the starting signal for a new battery technology that Tesla considered a historical milestone, a revolution in the production of electric cars and in the general efficiency of this component; a new battery cell format that would revolutionize the industry by reducing costs by almost 50%. At the time, the automaker was already operating a pilot production line in Fremont, California.
Subsequently Tesla admitted that several parts of the production process, and specifically the dry coating of its electrodes, made it actually difficult to achieve mass production of the cells, with which the process of implementation in the Model Y - the first of its EV models that would incorporate them - took longer than expected. The manufacturer's intention is that both the Tesla Cybertruck and the Tesla Semi incorporate this type of battery right from the beginning of mass production.
Up until now the information provided by the Austin company has been very scarce regarding the number of cells that are produced on a monthly basis. This month, along with the financial results of the first quarter, Tesla has updated the data on production, stating that "the total number of 4,680 cells produced (shipped for packaging) increased three times sequentially in the third quarter".
A fact that really does not contribute much to knowing the reality of production numbers, basically because the data of the cells manufactured in the first or second quarter is not known. But Tesla CFO Zachary Kirkhorn shared some additional information during the post-financial results conference call: “Production ramp-up is going well, as Elon said: total production increased threefold quarter over quarter, and production is about to exceed what is needed for 1,000 cars per week this quarter”.
Considering an average of 60 kWh per car, this figure would mean a production of 60 MWh per week, or 3 GWh per year which, although not being a massive production capacity, it is certainly significant. In parallel, Tesla has also made new comments showing that they are trying not to rely on this increased 4680-cell production for its new vehicle programs. Elon Musk has already warned that it is not using the 4680 cells in the Semi, the electric truck that is scheduled for first deliveries on December 1.
When asked if the Tesla Cybertruck, the company's long awaited electric pick-up, would be affected by the production ramp of the 4680 cells, Elon Musk said that he does not expect it to be affected the way it affected the Semi.
All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.