Tesla will not be able to mass produce 4680 batteries

Tesla will not be able to mass produce 4680 batteries alone

Tesla CEO Elon Musk first informed the public about the characteristics of type 4680 battery cells in September 2020. To date, difficulties in scaling their production have become the main reason for the repeated delay in the introduction of Cybertruck electric pickups, and semi-trailers have not yet started to use 4680 type batteries in their design. In order to mass produce 4680 cells, Tesla needs the help of many partners.

    Image source: Tesla

Image source: Tesla

Agency Reuters conducted a small research on this issue and cited the transition to “dry” technology for manufacturing electrodes as one of the key factors for further expanding the production of 4680 cells. Tesla’s move to dry technology will reduce the size and energy consumption of battery factories while increasing their specific productivity. At the same time, the power storage density in the batteries themselves will increase.

Maxwell Technologies, bought by Tesla in 2019, specializes in the development of technologies for the “dry” production of electrodes. The manufacture of anodes using the “dry” technology has already been established, but the maximum progress in this direction will be provided by the transition to the not yet mastered “dry” manufacture of cathodes. With the current production volume of traction batteries with “dry” electrodes, only 50,000 electric vehicles can be supplied with traction batteries per year. In 2020, Musk expected Tesla to equip up to 1.3 million Model Y electric vehicles with 4680 batteries. By the end of this year, Tesla plans to increase production of 4680 battery cells fivefold.

Currently produced in Texas, the Model Y crossovers with 4680 cells are equipped with wet cathode cells. Most of the electric vehicles produced in this model are usually equipped with battery cells of the type 2170, in the second generation of 4680 cells the company expects to use cathodes with a nickel content of over 90%. Supplier of such cathodes will be the South Korean L&F. Not only Tesla’s own capacities, but also companies from Panasonic and LG Energy Solution will be directly involved in the production of battery cells of the 4680 type. Japanese concern Panasonic is a long-time partner of Tesla, which now manufactures Type 4680 elements on its experimental line in Japan, but is ready to start production at the plant under construction in Kansas if necessary. LG and Panasonic will supply 4680 batteries for Tesla Cybertruck electric pickups, which will start production later this year.

As explained by Reuters, in preparation for the production of Cybertrucks, three options were used to equip these pickups with traction batteries: based on iron phosphate (LFP), in the 2170 version, and the actual cells of the 4680 size. Management preferred the latter, although off this is why the start of pickup assembly had to be postponed. The 4680 cells currently being produced in California could not meet energy storage density requirements, so Tesla is now actively interested in improving them.

The company doesn’t even hesitate to sign agreements with Chinese suppliers to release its batteries in the United States. Chinese companies Ningbo Ronbay New Energy and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing will help reduce the cost of materials for the production of Tesla traction batteries.

About the author

Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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