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Today, Tesla posted a video on Twitter showing the progress of the 4680 battery production, which was first revealed at the EV company’s Battery Day in September 2020. This is the first glimpse of the Roadrunner production line expected to bring down the battery manufacturing costs by at least 56%.
Tesla’s recent video also included a link to promote its job vacancies at the battery production lines at Giga Texas and Giga Berlin.
The 4680 battery is pivotal to Tesla’s strategy to reduce its battery production in hopes to reduce its vehicle costs. Currently, the EV battery is the biggest cost, which has been a significant obstacle to enabling the reduction in the EV purchase price. It goes without saying that all-electric vehicles already offer massive savings in fuel and maintenance but the initial outlay for consumers is still too high for the average consumer and has been the stumbling block for the mass adoption of electric vehicles.
Currently, Tesla sources its batteries from manufacturers such as Panasonic, Chinese Amperex Technology Limited (CATL), and LG Chem but Tesla CEO, Elon Musk has had his own plans to get the company’s production line up to make its own batteries that will increase the energy density and decrease production costs by using a new winding design and tabless electrode technology.
The 4680 battery format (referring to the battery’s 46mm diameter and 80mm height) maximizes space with the battery pack and uses more silicon in the anode, diversifying cathodes to spread demand for materials and integrating battery packs as a structural component of the actual vehicle design. By employing all these strategies, Tesla got to the 56% reduction in manufacturing costs.
Tesla’s Battery Day was an announcement platform for Elon Musk to divulge the company’s plans for Project Roadrunner, the new battery facility near its Fremont factory. However, the EV manufacturer also plans to produce its new batteries at its Gigafactories in Texas and Berlin when those two facilities complete construction and become operational. While the Roadrunner facility in Kato Road was unveiled last year as the biggest battery production line, Musk said in November that the Berlin Gigafactory would become the “largest battery cell plant in the world.”
As more consumers move towards electric vehicles, making enough batteries to satisfy demand might become an issue if demand for nickel, lithium, and cobalt increases. Battery manufacturer, CATL that supplies cobalt-free lithium phosphate batteries to Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory for the standard range plus Model 3, which is an alternative to using cobalt. Tesla also intends to steer away from cobalt using a high-nickel cathode in the 4680 battery to produce an energy-dense product for Tesla’s planned Semi truck and Cybertruck due to go into production this year.
The baseline projection is that Tesla will produce 10 GWh of batteries in 2021, 100 GWh in 2022, and 3,000 GWh (3 TWh) by 2030. This is a colossal plan that grow significantly over time, and Giga Berlin is set to play a major role in contributing towards these targets, particularly from 2022.
If Tesla manages to pull this off, it will mean a great deal for its manufacturing capabilities and potential to supply other competitors and partners. Tesla’s battery production looks like it could become the most advanced we’ve seen to date, which will be an incredible accomplishment.
Being a leading EV manufacturer producing the highest quality and cheapest battery cells will pave the way for Tesla to finally realize its’ goal in producing affordable electric vehicles for the mass market. That will help the company penetrate more of the auto market globally while accelerating the world's transition to green energy.