Tesla CEO Elon Musk has confirmed that the new 4680 cells that were unveiled at the Battery Day event last month will be deployed regularly in the Model Y vehicles that will be produced in the Berlin Gigafactory next year. While the automaker confirmed that the cells have been deployed for the past few months in a few models, that was just part of the cell testing that they were carrying out.
New Tesla 4680 Cells To Be Used In Model Y
The Gigafactory in Berlin is currently in the construction phase and is expected to start functioning in the latter part of 2021. The new 4680 cell was unveiled last month and is expected to take Tesla’s battery technology to a new level. Musk also touched upon other changes that will be implemented in the new plant in Germany.
The Plans for 4680 Battery Cells
The 4680 is a battery that Tesla has launched with a view to upgrade their current battery technology. The new cell will consist of a tabless, spiral-shaped shingled design, which is expected to deliver a top-notch performance. The battery will give five times the energy, six times the power, and increase the vehicular range by 14%, which is quite a bit. Tesla is changing not just the battery, but also the battery pack architecture. The new design will be based on seamlessly integrating the battery modules into the design of the car, rather than having them in a pack that acts as extra weight. This will save some space as well as weight, and help in increasing the battery range. Musk also added that this new architecture will help in eliminating the central parts of the battery modules while improving on the torsional rigidity and polar moment of inertia too, which is a major breakthrough.
Tesla plans on deploying these cells in the Model Y next year. The production of the 4680 cell modules is currently going on at full pace at the Fremont Megafactory, and the plant is expected to reach an annual production capacity of 10 GWh by the end of 2021. This will allow Tesla to produce as many as 100,000 Model Y vehicles every year.
The Berlin Gigafactory Story
The plant in Germany that is currently undergoing construction will be Tesla’s third Gigafactory, after the first two that are located in Nevada and Shanghai. Situated on the outskirts of Berlin, the plant is expected to bring a lot of radical changes to the way Tesla manufactures its vehicles.
Berlin will use 4680 cell with structural battery pack & front & rear single piece castings. Also, a new paint system.
Lot of new technology will happen in Berlin, which means significant production risk. Fremont & Shanghai will transition in ~2 years when new tech is proven.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 7, 2020
The 4680 cell usage will begin in the Berlin factory as already mentioned, but along with that, the new casting process that Tesla has invested in will also begin. The new kind of manufacturing process that Tesla has decided on consists of huge pieces of single castings, one each for the front end and rear end of the vehicle. This will bring down the number of components in the structure of the car, and help with the assembly process. While this seems like a big move in manufacturing, many people raised the doubt of what would happen if the car undergoes a collision. Normally, the damaged parts get replaced, but with just a single part in place, such replacements will become next to impossible. However, Musk clarified these doubts through Twitter, by saying that the crash absorption rails of the vehicle body can be cut off, and replaced with a bolted part for the collision repair.
The company has also brought in some changes with the paint system, which will be implemented in the Berlin plant as well. The new system is set to give the Model Y a variety of multi-layered colors.
As it can be clearly seen, there are a lot of new technologies starting off inside the Berlin Gigafactory, which means that the first two years of production for the plant will be of utmost importance. Testing of these new technologies, and staying in line with the production rate will have high risks in the initial stages. Once these technologies have been tested adequately, they will then be implemented in the Fremont and Shanghai plants as well.
So, it seems like Tesla is beginning another ascent when it comes to technological progress. While they have made certain upgrades in battery technology, the new ideas that will be implemented in the manufacturing division are the most exciting. This is because Elon Musk has been constantly talking about wanting Tesla to make the transition from an automobile company to a manufacturing company. He has this vision of Tesla factories looking like an “alien dreadnought”, and steps taken to improve manufacturing processes will only help with making that a reality. By making progress in the manufacturing sector, Tesla will achieve a lot of success. From a production point of view, the future appears very bright for Tesla.