Tesla's breakthrough 4680 battery rollout slower than predicted

Tesla’s breakthrough 4680 battery rollout slower than predicted


Tesla’s breakthrough 4680 battery rollout slower than predicted

Awaiting Tesla's new battery

Two years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk took the stage during the automaker’s “battery day” presentation to unveil a breakthrough battery cell designed to significantly increase range, reduce production costs and enable power-hungry future products like the Cybertruck pickup and Semi cargo hauler.

But despite Musk’s 2020 prediction that Tesla would be producing enough of the new batteries for 1 million or more vehicles this year, the production ramp is still in its early stages.

Tesla is now forecasting significant output by the end of the year in anticipation of a mid-2023 Cybertruck launch.

“We are making a decent number every week and I think we’ll be in high-volume production by the end of the year,” Musk said at the company shareholders’ meeting last week.

The 4680 cylindrical battery debuted in a small number of Model Y crossovers built at a new plant in Austin, Texas, during the second quarter, Tesla said.

The automaker said the 4680 cell design will deliver an immediate 16 percent improvement in vehicle range compared with 2170 battery packs. And future improvements in battery materials and vehicle design will result in a net 56 percent gain in range and a 54 percent drop in production costs.

But 4680 output thus far has been so constrained that Tesla is mostly continuing to use 2170 cells at its new Texas plant. Tesla had been expected to use the larger new cells with a new “structural pack” that incorporates cells into body structure to reduce size and weight.

“To be clear, we are currently making the cars with the 2170 cells,” Musk said on Tesla’s second-quarter earnings call. “But it is worth emphasizing that we have enough 2170 cells to satisfy all vehicle production for the remainder of the year. So we’re not dependent on 4680. 4680 will be important next year.”

— Laurence Iliff

What you need to know

Like lidar but less costly, Compound Eye says: Automotive sensor startup Compound Eye has unveiled a VIDAS development kit, allowing automakers and suppliers to test the system that creates lidarlike imaging for less cost. It enables a vehicle to visualize its surroundings in a real-time, multidimensional way similar to lidar but using only a pair of cameras.

EV maker Nikola names Michael Lohscheller as its next CEO: Electric-truck maker Nikola Corp. said Michael Lohscheller is taking over as CEO when Mark Russell retires on Jan. 1. Lohscheller was instrumental in the production of the company’s battery-powered Tre trucks and in achieving development milestones for Tre fuel-cell vehicles, the company said.

Commercial EV startups are burning cash in a race to deliver vehicles: A handful of commercial electric vehicle startups are burning through cash fast, racing to bring vans or trucks to market before the funds run out or customers choose to buy from legacy automakers.

Brain food

Washington has been divided for years on how to regulate and promote self-driving vehicles. Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell and Republican Rep. Robert Latta are looking to change that by launching the bipartisan Congressional Autonomous Vehicle Caucus to help educate lawmakers on the importance of the technology.

Last mile

Mobile games and real-time 3D platform developer Unity Technologies will power the infotainment domain of the new Mercedes-Benz operating system, which is set to debut in 2024 models. Developers will use Unity’s 3D product visualization software bundle to create user interface and user experience designs for the system’s digital cockpit.

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