Published on September 26th, 2020 | by Zachary Shahan
September 26th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Tesla’s Battery Day presentation packed in a ton of info. On the bottom of this article, I’ll add some of the articles we’ve published that have tried to summarize, further explain, and expound on the Battery Day event. First, though, there’s one point that was not made clear in the presentation that Tesla CEO Elon Musk just confirmed on Twitter.
The Battery Day presentation left some people thinking Tesla was already producing a few of its homemade batteries for use in Tesla cars, left other people thinking Tesla was still far away from getting its own cells into cars, and left others thinking that Tesla was already pumping out 10 gigawatt-hours of batteries a year and stuffing them into new Tesla vehicles. What Elon Musk just clarified on Twitter is that Tesla’s new batteries are in fact in cars on the road today — well, actually, cars that have been on the road for the past several months. (Remember that Battery Day was supposed to occur several months ago.) While it’s not 100% clear whether these are just test vehicles or also some consumer vehicles, it seems to be implied (and only logical) that they are test vehicles still owned by Tesla.
Suppliers. We’re only doing high energy nickel ourselves, at least for now. Also, maybe the presentation wasn’t clear that we’ve actually had our cells in packs driving cars for several months. Prototypes are trivial, volume production is hard.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 26, 2020
The last line in that tweet also implies that the company is still far from mass production. Having prototype cells in cars is a minimal achievement in Elon’s eyes, compared to the challenge of high-volume production of those cells and getting them into thousands upon thousands of vehicles each month. It appears that because he sees the prototypes as “trivial,” that was not a highlight of the presentation.
For much more information about these cells, Kyle Field wrote an in-depth piece for us that I recommend reading: “Everything You Need To Know About Tesla’s New 4680 Battery Cell.”
Regarding Tesla’s battery production capacity and where it is at the moment, Musk and Tesla CTO Drew Baglino did explain where Tesla is today and where it intends to be in the near term.
“This is not just a concept or a rendering,” Baglino said. “We are starting to ramp up manufacturing of these cells at our pilot 10 GWh production facility just around the corner.”
“It will take awhile to get to the 10 GWh [annualized] production capacity,” Musk added, noting that the company expects to reach that production capacity sometime within the next 12 months. “Actual production plants will be on the order of 200 GWh or more over time.”
Musk’s comments about the challenges of high-volume production come from several years of manufacturing experience, including several challenging years. But as I noted two days ago, Tesla’s 10 GWh “pilot plant” would actually be the 13th largest lithium-ion battery factory in the world if it was online tomorrow. So, Tesla expects to be pumping out a significant flow of battery cells within the coming months, whether it calls that a full-blown factory or a “pilot” plant. Meanwhile, it has much bigger plans than that, plans which could even make it the largest lithium-ion battery producer in the world.
For more on these topics, I recommend reading:
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