Tesla Battery Day 2020 | Key highlights

Tesla Battery Day 2020 was set up in a unique way, a testament to the times we are living in. A socially distanced event where Elon Musk addressed to an audience sitting in electric cars, honking to convey applause and support. Here are our takeaways:

Goals Announced by Tesla

1. To reach 1 TWh scale battery production. The term GW is generally used in terms of battery production capacity. Tesla shifts the scale by bringing focus on TW that is 1,000 times more than a GW.

2. Offer more affordable cars by lowering the battery cost per KWh by half.

To achieve the goal of halving the cost of batteries, Tesla plans to make cells and batteries ground up. At the same time, they will continue to source cells from their partners like Panasonic, LG Chem and CATL.

Through advancements and creative engineering in all the facets of battery production value chain, Tesla aims to achieve a total 56% reduction in battery cost per KWh over a period of 3 years.

The Plan

Tesla plans to introduce engineering and process innovations and bring efficiency to every step of battery production to achieve the goal of a more than 50% reduction in battery cost.

Source: Tesla Battery Day Event Video

Let’s have a look.

Cell Design

Tesla has moved from 1865 cells in 2008 to a form factor of 2170 in 2017 (first two digits are diameter in mm and second two are length of the cylindrical cell in mm).

Now, Tesla plans to evolve to 4680 form factor tabless cells that will provide a better power to weight ratio, simplify winding and coating process, and render thermal as well as performance benefits.

In terms of numbers, the new cell design will deliver 5 times more energy, 6 times more power and 16% range increase over current cells, and will contribute to reducing per KWh cost of the future batteries by 14%.

4680 cell

Cell factory

Drawing Inspiration from speed, simplicity and cost effectiveness of paper printing and bottling plants, Tesla aims to introduce innovation in cell production process that will lead to 18% reduction in per KWh cost.

The way to achieve the needed efficiency in production process is being planned through replacing the wet process of electrode coating by a dry process, developing high speed continuous motion assembly with multifold increase in line output, and leveraging in-house innovations in power electronics.

As a result, Tesla estimates achieving 10% smaller footprint per GWh and 75% reduction in investment per unit, effectively producing 1 TWh in less space than what it takes to produce 150 GWh.

The Goal is to build Tesla cell production capacity of 100 GWh by 2022 and scale up to 3 TWh by 2030.

Anode material

Tesla plans to focus on Silicon as anode material in place of graphite. Aims to engineer Tesla Silicon that will be designed to accommodate for volume expansion challenge of Silicon and will cost $1.2 per KWh – way less than current silicon material cost in today’s batteries.

Musk said that leveraging the Tesla Silicon will help increase vehicle range by 20% and enable further 5% reduction in battery cost per KWh.

Cathode

The company plans to achieve 15% reduction in Cathode cost per KWh by simplifying the traditional cathode process, focussing on high nickel cathode development eliminating cobalt altogether.

Tesla will set up its own Cathode plant in North America, near to the source of raw materials. A lithium production site will be co-located with the cathode plant. The lithium will be produced with a sulphate free process and cost 33% less.

Also announced plans to invest in building a recycling facility for end of life Li-ion batteries in Nevada to extract the raw material.

Overall, Tesla aims to achieve a 12% reduction in battery cost per KWh through its efforts in cathode production.

Cell Vehicle integration

Taking inspiration from aircrafts that have fuel tanks integrated in the wings as an integral part of the body structure, Tesla plans to use structural batteries to improve the mass efficiency of the battery pack.

Elon said that the proposed advancements in vehicle body and battery integration present an opportunity to increase the range by 14% and achieve 10% mass reduction, effectively reducing the battery cost per KWh by another 7%.

Putting it all together

– 54% increase in range

– 69% decrease in investment per GWh

– 56% decrease in battery cost per KWh

Concluding Thoughts

Tesla aims to deliver an electric powertrain at $25,000, comparable to an ICE car to increase the penetration and affordability of EVs.

Elon made it clear that the metric for Tesla’s success would be ‘by how many years can they accelerate sustainable energy‘, and the organisation will continue to focus on all 3 ways of doing it with its work on clean energy generation (solar), energy storage (batteries) and clean transport (electric cars).

Source: Tesla Battery Day 2020 video

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