If you seen Tesla’s Battery Day presentation last year, you’ll know the company was working on producing a new, larger, more efficient battery cell known as the ‘4680’.
Today the company has released a video of the production line running at full speed and showing tens of thousands of batteries being produced.
These batteries are destined for Tesla vehicles, with the specific models to be confirmed, but some are speculating these could be headed for the upcoming refresh of the Model S and X, along with the very successful Model 3 and Model Y.
Thinking forward to the new products Tesla is expected to start producing later this year, the 4680 cell is likely to make its way into the Cybertruck and Tesla Semi.
The 4680 cell can provide as much as 5x the energy, 16% extra range and 6x the power. The new cell also features a new tables design, which allows the production facility to run much faster, not stopping to address the tab during rolling. The new cell form factor can also support multiple chemistry types, something Tesla mentioned during battery day.
Given the improved properties of the larger cell, it makes sense that Tesla would want to utilisise it everywhere, as soon as they can. With each cell being quite a lot larger than previous cell sizes, it requires less per car to reach the same battery capacity.
When Elon Musk spoke about the 4680 lines at Battery Day, he referred to them as pilot production lines, but what we’re looking at here, appears to be full-on production at scale. In this still below, taken from the video, we see at least 5 rows of formation (validation) occurring.
This is where the batteries are first charged and validated that their construction was to a Tesla standard. In this shot alone we see dozens of crates, each carrying 8×8 grid of cells. Each of these 64-cell batches are automatically moved into position for validation.
Each one of the 5 racks looks to have as many as 12 vertical slots and horizontally looks to go on as far as the eye can see, let’s call it 20 slots.
5 rows x 20 deep x 12 high x 64 cells in each tray, would mean in this shot alone, the facility is processing 76,800 cells. We’re not sure how long validation takes, but I’d suggest that there’d be many batches per day.
Given that, along with the many other shots of the cells flying through the production line, suggests this production facility, is capable of hundreds of thousands of cells per day.
I must have watched the video 30 times now and it’s just mesmorising to watch a high-volume manufacturing facility in action. The engineers that designed and programmed the equipment necessary to create these batteries are clearly incredibly talented.
The question I walk away with is, why release the video now? The simple answer to that is, Tesla want to get people excited about what’s to come, generally more range in EVs, but specifically it could be timed to coincide with the new Model S and X refresh.
The theory is that during the production shutdown, Tesla could have integrated the new cells into the design. What we don’t know is how Tesla will play this announcement, if they’ll hold an event, simply mention its been done on the upcoming earnings call, or update their website with additional range.
Let us know in the comments what you think of Tesla’s ‘Making batteries’ video.