After months of being postponed due to the lockdown, Tesla’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting, also dubbed as the Battery Day, was conducted in California, and it has got mixed reactions. There were a number of interesting topics that Elon Musk covered, including the launch of the Model S Plaid, announcing a $25,000 electric vehicle in the upcoming years, and a new cylindrical cell. However, many people expected more emphasis on battery technology (it was “Battery” Day after all), especially regarding the announcement of a ‘million-mile battery’.
Tesla $25,000 Car, Model S Plaid Unveiled, Orders Open And Much More
The 4860 Cylindrical Cells
Amid speculation of some exciting battery technology to be announced, Tesla did not really live up to the expectations. Many were hoping to see radical changes that will drive down the price of battery manufacturing, but the only major battery talk was about the new 4860 cylindrical cells.
This new cell is slightly bigger than the current 2170 battery cell that Tesla uses, but the most important feature of this new technology is the removal of tabs. The ‘tabless’ cell will have a shingled spiral design, and thanks to the improved battery architecture, it will be able to give 5 times the energy, 6 times the power, and a 16% increase in vehicle range. This battery will also be easy to manufacture, with ‘no hassle of the tabs’ according to Musk. These batteries will be produced in-house by Tesla at a plant that is in process of being built. Led by the research team of Jeff Dahn, battery technology has grown a lot in the past 2-3 years at Tesla, and they are going to take this research and implement it on the manufacturing floor.
They will, however, continue to take batteries from Panasonic and LG Chem among others, and these orders are set to increase even further as Tesla aims to increase production. Musk mentioned that the Gigafactory Shanghai will be aiming to manufacture 1 million vehicles in the coming year.
While no concrete specifications of this battery are announced yet, Musk mentioned that the use of this technology will reduce a lot of dead weight inside the battery, and ultimately reduce its cost by around 14% per kWh. According to calculations, that places the new cost at around $127 per kWh, with $100 being the magic number for electric vehicles to compete with the prices of the gas-guzzlers.
$25,000 Electric Vehicle Coming in 3 Years
One of the major points that Musk mentioned was sustainability. With more and more electric vehicles coming onto the roads every day, Tesla is hoping to reduce the effect of direct carbon emissions from the combustion vehicles as much as possible. This plan however seemed haphazard without the presence of Tesla in the ‘affordable car’ category. This might change though, with Musk having announced that an electric vehicle costing $25,000 might be coming to the market sooner than later. While no specifications were revealed, it is expected to be a hatchback with over 200 miles of range.
The current plan is to launch this unnamed vehicle in 3 years’ time. Tesla hopes to produce a car this cheap through the use of the new battery technology they have announced. The reduction in weight and cost through the battery pack will help in manufacturing a car that will be affordable for the common public. Musk also mentioned that they will be integrating the battery along with the car, which will reduce the cost even further. This new battery architecture is set to revolutionize the ‘affordable car’ segment if Tesla does stick to their plans of the three-year timeline for this car.
After Apple Silicon, it is now time for Tesla Silicon. Described by Musk as “awesome and inexpensive”, the material can provide 20% more range, and costs less than $1.20 per anode per kWh. This will be done through the use of raw silicon that has not been treated.
Tesla also announced that they are moving away from cobalt for the cathode of the batteries, as it is one of the most expensive components of the cell. Instead, they will be using nickel as a substitute. This is set to decrease battery production costs by 15%, and the cathode production facilities that will be up and running in some time (mostly in Oklahoma) will help drive down the cost even further. This move will be aided by the acquisition of a 10,000-acre mining site that will produce even more battery components in-house, and also help with battery recycling.
Model S Plaid Unveiled, Orders Open
The final announcement of the day, which was slated to be the million-mile battery, was instead the unveiling of the new highest variant of the Model S – the Plaid version. Tesla opened orders for this new variant, and also unveiled some specs that seem simply unbelievable.
First things first, the powertrain will consist of a three-motor setup (one at the front and two at the back, or vice versa – it has not been announced yet), which will be capable of producing up to 1,100 horsepower. This new powertrain infuses more life into the already spectacular performance the Model S provides. A top speed of 200 mph (322 kph) is expected, and the car can go from 0 to 60 mph in (wait for it….) less than two seconds. Not only that, but it can also complete a quarter-mile in under 9 seconds!!
This is an interesting bit of news, considering that Tesla’s newest competitor, Lucid Motors, announced their own tri-motor version of the Air, which can go the same distance in 9.3 seconds. The Plaid Model S also allegedly completed a lap around the Laguna Seca in just 1:30.3 two days ago, which is six seconds faster than their previously-held record from last year. That record was broken last week by the Lucid Air Tri-Motor, going around the California racetrack in 1:33, and it comes as no surprise that Tesla wrestled its record back in no time. Tesla also took a dig at the spectacular 517-mile (832 km) EPA-tested range of the Lucid Air Dream Edition, by announcing that the Model S Plaid will have a range of at least 520 miles (837 km). With a number of features in place, the Model S Plaid is set to cost a little less than $140,000, making it the costliest Tesla to be on sale. This version is set to start deliveries in late 2021.
Say what you will, Tesla has a habit of promising a lot of things. Speculations regarding the Battery Day had a lot to do with driving EV prices down and newer battery technologies. While they did reveal the $25,000 car set to be released in three years, and the new 4860 battery, there were no tangible results. Investors were hoping for faster results with regards to the affordability of Tesla cars, and the three-year-timeline was not taken well, as the market value of Tesla dropped by $50 billion in a day. There was no mention of the million-mile battery either, and the “something more” that Musk had mentioned prior to the Battery Day turned out to be the Plaid. All in all, there was a lot of talk about the future of the electric vehicle industry, but no tangible announcements disappointed the fanbase.