Tesla has started to receive a few 4680-format cells from Panasonic, which should be used in the American manufacturer’s next vehicles. What if this finally made it possible to start production of the long-awaited Cybertruck and Roadster?
In 2020, Tesla revealed a revolutionary cell design in the “4680” format. It is a cylinder 46 millimeters in diameter by 80 millimeters long, which would allow energy density and better performance than current cells. Since then, apart from a few Tesla Model Ys leaving the Austin, Texas factory, there are still no Tesla vehicles that use these new battery cells. But that may well change soon thanks to Panasonic.
Cells in 4680 format which are of paramount importance
For Tesla, this new cell format is not trivial at all. Indeed, they are necessary for what is considered across the Atlantic as the most important vehicle of the firm of Elon Musk: the Cybertruck. This electric pick-up presented with great fanfare at the end of 2019 has still not left the production lines, and it is necessary to use the cells in 4680 format so that it can meet the promises of autonomy, power and costs made by Tesla.
Panasonic, a long-time partner of the American manufacturer, has just sent these first 4680 cells to Tesla, after revealing that they were working on this design last October. Confident that these cells will meet Tesla’s requirements, the Japanese firm Panasonic told Reuters that it was preparing to set up factories in the United States and that it has been able to produce prototypes in quantity since last month. Mass production of 4680 cells is scheduled to start at Panasonic during the next fiscal year beginning in March 2023. Note that Tesla also plans to manufacture these cells in its factories.
Tesla is not the only manufacturer to seek new cell formats to be more efficient, less expensive and gain autonomy. Indeed, the Chinese giant CATL has notably concluded an agreement with BMW for its next 3 Series, and Volkswagen has a project for unified cells which should see the light of day in 2023. However, there are still some unknowns, recently raised by Bosh, in particular on the cells 4680: how does Tesla manage to limit the heating of such cells?
If Tesla is careful not to specify all these manufacturing secrets, we can hope to quickly have news of the two most anticipated vehicles from the manufacturers: the Cybertruck and the Roadster. Although they are both in different categories – see diametrically opposed – the 4680 cells are an indispensable condition for their release. It will soon be five years that some are waiting for their Roadster, and three years for their Cybertruck. What if 2022 was the last year without these vehicles on the road?
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