Tesla has just released it’s Q2 2021 financial results. On page 8 of the 28 page shareholder deck, Tesla detail their progress on the 4680 battery cell that was announced at battery day in September last year.
Under the Battery and Powertrain section, Tesla says,
We have successfully validated performance and lifetime of our 4680 cells produced at our Kato facility in California. We are nearing the end of manufacturing validation at Kato: field quality and yield are at viable levels and our focus is now on improving the 10% of manufacturing processes that currently bottleneck production output.
While substantial progress has been made, we still have work ahead of us before we can achieve volume production. Internal crash testing of our structural pack architecture with a single-piece front casting has been successful.
While just 2 paragraphs, there’s a lot to unpack from this. We now learn that Tesla has successfully validated the performance and longevity of 4680 cells, which is promising.
Their pilot site, located at Kato Road, Fremont has been the testing ground for what will be cell production at both their new factories in Texas and Berlin.
It’s now been 10 months since Tesla announced the 4680 form factor, chemistry and production efficiencies. The quality and yield are at viable levels, leaving Tesla to refine the 10% of manufacturing processes. Part of the success of 4680 will be the speed of manufacturing, with a key element being the tabless design (actually lots of tabs).
While Tesla doesn’t detail specifically what the 10% is, we may hear more in the Q2 earnings call later today.
Without mention of any issues with the dry battery electrode technology they acquired from Maxwell, it would suggest that Tesla now have that sorted.
At battery day, Tesla said the new 4680 cell would offer 5x the energy, 16% more range and 6x the power. Upcoming vehicles, Cybertruck, Semi and Roadster are expected to use the 4680 cells.
Tesla also took time to mention that while substantial progress has been made, there is still work ahead before we can achieve volume production.
Part of the battery pack story is to make the pack structural, essentially taking front and rear single-piece castings to form the chassis of the vehicle. On that front, Tesla mentions that they have completed internal crash testing of the structural pack architecture and that their single-piece front casting has been successful.
We know already that single-piece casting is already in production Model Ys, so a front-casting (we presume multiple vehicles), will accelerate production, reduce complexity and improve profits.
On page 16 of the shareholder deck, we get an updated photo from inside the Texas Gigafactory. This photo from the Model Y Body Shop, appears to be our first photo of a Tesla Model Y with front and rear-casting, famously created with the Idra Gigapress machines.