Two years ago, Elon Musk announced a revolution in the production of lithium-containing batteries, announcing the 4680 battery, but experts and laymen met the innovation with skepticism. As it turned out, there were reasons for this. The release of Tesla 4680 cells using new technologies still leads to a catastrophic level of rejects, which does not allow Musk to keep his promise to reduce the cost of a traction battery by 50%.
“They’re just not ready for mass production,” said one expert close to Tesla, whose words leads Reuters. “They can make [аккумуляторные элементы] in small volumes, but when they started high-volume production, Tesla had a lot of defects, too much,” another Tesla-related source told Reuters.
Stan Whittingham, co-inventor of lithium-ion batteries and 2019 Nobel laureate, believes that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is too optimistic about the timing of the commercialization of the new technology.
Tesla and the original developer of the 4680 cell, the Japanese company Panasonic, planned to introduce a “dry” method of manufacturing cathodes to save production of new 4680 cells. Today, cathode coatings are produced in a wet way – the material is dissolved, applied to the electrodes and dried for a long time in electric furnaces. This approach is quite expensive. The dry method avoids costly drying and solvent recycling processes, whereby Musk promised to reduce the cost of traction batteries by 50%.
The technology for the production of cathodes by the “dry” method was obtained by Tesla during the takeover of Maxwell Technologies. It was tested by Maxwell for the production of supercapacitors, but was poorly suited for the production of large lithium-containing batteries. Musk previously promised to mass-produce the 4680 cells in the US by the end of 2022. Today, experts agree that even the end of 2023 looks overly optimistic for these promises.
Today, a battery pack for a Tesla Model Y electric car is valued at about 16% of the cost of the car. This is about $10,000 on average. Reducing the cost of manufacturing a 4680 cell and a battery based on it promises to save about $5,000.
The company has already realized savings of $1,000 to $2,000 simply by using the new large cell form factor (4680). And the transition to “dry” cathodes will save another $2,000 to $3,000. This will not happen today and hardly next year, but sooner or later new technologies will be introduced into production and will lead to lower prices for the company’s electric vehicles to $25,000, as Elon Musk once promised.
If you notice an error, select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.