Elon Musk Says Tesla Model S & X Won’t Get New 2170 Cell (Update)

Tesla Model 3


According to CEO Elon Musk, the Tesla Model S and X won’t get the higher energy density 2170 cell found in the Model 3.

This runs counter to previous reports that indicate the Model S and X would transition over to the new cell factor by the end of this year.

Following the release of news that the 2170 cell for the Tesla Model 3 went into production, Musk was asked when the transition would occur for the Model S and X. Here’s the question and his response:

We must then assume that the S and X will continue to use the 18650 cell, possibly until both are up for a full redesign.

Why no change to 2170? Our guess is that most all 2170 cells will be accounted for in the coming years with Model 3 production ramping up and Powerwall and Powerpack installations taking off.

We still think the transition will happen, mainly to leverage mass production to drive costs down even further, just not anytime in the near future.

Update (June 20th, 9:45 PM ET):  CEO Musk tweeted more info on current battery packs, adds the “tech” will be unchanged in the 100 kWh battery packs moving forward.

Categories: Tesla

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

57 Comments on "Elon Musk Says Tesla Model S & X Won’t Get New 2170 Cell (Update)"

newest oldest most voted

Why would it? The Model S/X are old and it would be time for a new version anyway.

You have to design the car to fit the cells and those cars were designed for smaller cells.

George Bower

I agree unlucky. It could be difficult to sqeeze the taller cells in the existing casing.

But this statement is confusing to me:

According to CEO Elon Musk, the Tesla Model S and X won’t get the higher energy density 2170 cell found in the Model 3.

That statement implies a different cell chemistry or perhaps a change in the anode or cathode design. I don’t recall Tesla ever stating that this 2170 cell will be a different chemistry. I thougjt it would be the same chemistry in a different form factor.


Tesla has always claimed that the 2170 cells for cars would use an improved chemistry.

I think that the contract with Panasonic for the 18650 cells might also play a role. Nothing that couldn’t be worked around if it was important, but cheaper to keep using the old cells.


That’s where the truth is: contracts. This is about form factor and not chemistry. Tesla (now) builds the cars around the batteries. They learned their lesson building electrification around a car with the Roadster.


I’ve not been able to find any source where Tesla says the 2170 uses a new battery chemistry. There’s been speculation from 3rd parties.

Maybe they’ve just been tight-lipped about it, but it might use the same chemistry that they rolled out in 2015 in the 18650 cells for the 90 kwh packs, which included some silicon in the mix to improve energy density.


I don’t have a source, but when the future Gigafactory was first being discussed I clearly remember Elon saying that the new cells would have a 10% to 15% improvement in energy density from the new chemistry. Of course, plans may change but they never said anything different.

George Bower

Here’s my recollection:

The 90 kwh packs have the latest chemistry change. Actually it is a change to the composition of the anode. Panasonic added more silicon to the anode. or should I say made the anodes with a low percentage of silicon to increase energy density.

There are some rumors/data over at TMC forum that these new cells are being throttled back early on charging power at the SC er’s. Speculation is that perhaps they are having some problems with the new batteries.

So perhaps they have addressed this issue (not verified as an actual issue by Tesla) in the new 2170 cells.

Quoting from a transcript of Tesla’s Q2 2014 Earnings Conference Call: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Colin Langan – UBS: And on the Giga Factory, I mean is the chemistry going to be the same battery chemistry that you’re currently using or is that part of the discussions that are going on with Panasonic? Elon Musk: There are improvements to the chemistry, as well as improvements to the [indiscernible]. So we would expect to see an energy density improvement, and of course a significant cost improvement. JB, do you want to [indiscernible]? JB Straubel: Yeah, that’s, you know, the cathode and anode materials themselves are next generation, so we’re — I mean we’re seeing improvements in the maybe 10% to 15% range on the chemistry itself. Elon Musk: Yeah, in terms of energy density. JB Straubel: Energy density. And then, you know, we’re also customizing the cell shape and size to further improve the cost efficiency of the cell, and our packaging efficiency. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Source: Seeking Alpha (I decline to include the link due to Seeking Alpha’s penny-a-click policy — PMPU) * * * * * BenG said: “Maybe they’ve just been tight-lipped about it, but it might use the same chemistry that they… Read more »

Every single new cell they can make in the next 2 years will already have a model 3 waiting for it.
The only way they could put them in an S or X is by making half a million 3 orders even later.
Not going to happen in the next couple of years at least.


This is also my read on the situation based upon the latest information.

Paulo Santos

So you copy+paste from another resource but “decline to put in the link”? That would be a DMCA offense. Indeed, even with the link it likely would still be such an offense.

Also, you’re copy+pasting from a transcript, where SA pays no author whatsoever.


Aaaahh look! Paulo Santos lurking around in the background to see if there’s any dirt on here he can sling at Tesla on [S]linking [A]fter or [S]oulless [A]lligators or whatever it’s called, for one of his dubious “I believe” Anti-Tesla fairytales – i.e. article totally devoid of any facts, just a plethora of Santos Surmisions….


GeorgeS said:

“I don’t recall Tesla ever stating that this 2170 cell will be a different chemistry.”

I guess you’re just not as obsessed with every detail of Tesla’s business as some of us, then. 😉

I don’t have the link, but I’ve seen a transcript of one of the quarterly conference calls with stock holders, where J.B. Straubel and Elon Musk were on the line, and both agreed that Gigafactory cells would have improved chemistry, not just a different form factor.


Belated addendum: Well obviously I did find the link, since it’s posted above. Y’all made me do homework! 😉

George Bower

OK I’m glad you showed up because I figured you would have an opinion on whether or not the 2170’s will have a new and improved chemistry.

The quote you have from musk is 2014 yes? Thx for finding it but wasn’t that before the new 90 kwh cells were put into cars?

Maybe he’s talking about 90 kwh cells w/ the new anode.

I’ll google it


Yep, change the cell then you have to change the modules, pack and the entire car at least a bit. Makes sense to wait for a major redesign to incorporate such a significant change: not something they’d just roll out during routine incremental improvements.

Panasonic will probably have another upgrade to chemistry for the 1865 cells before too long … the 90 kwh pack, introduced Aug 2015, contained cells with upgraded chemistry compared to the original 85 kwh packs. If they stick to a 3 year upgrade cycle we can expect one next summer.


So it’s not going to be an OTA update?


No, not enough bandwidth

Robert Weekley

Teleporting is still in imagination stage!



What does it mean? I can’t read this stuff, too much ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Michael Will

Why would they change the form factor of the cell for the same car, that wouldn’t make any sense.

Instead they just need to change the chemistry, and according to testing done by Bjorne Nyland the 100D models already have the new chemistry showing by faster charging times at earlier and at later state of charge than previous generation.


The improvements to the 100D appear to be due to pack design.

George Bower

I wasn’t aware that the 100d cells had a different cell chemistry than the 90’s. AFAIK all they did was change the packing density.

Do you have a link for that?


there can’t be link for this nonsense because chemistry is the same, simply 16% more cells + new cooling allows faster charging


That’s funny since the full quote was already posted here


“Why would they change the form factor of the cell for the same car, that wouldn’t make any sense.”

When you understand that the 2170 cells achieve significant cost savings by using a different form factor, and when you understand that the Gigafactory makes only 2170 cells, not 18650 cells, and when you learn that Tesla claims a 35% (per kWh) savings for 2170 cells…

Then the question becomes not why Tesla would change the Model S & X over to 2170 cells, but why Tesla wouldn’t! They must have a pretty compelling reason to avoid saving that much money per car.

Robert Weekley

Yup! Over 400,000 reasons! (Called the Model 3!)


Oh no oh no! Duh….If you want 2170 cells, pack your own pack ladies and gents. This is not hard stuff to do overall lol.


Not hard to pack your own pack with 2170s? LOL.

I’d like to see someone try to retrofit a Model S or X to use the 2170 cells. I’d say it’ll be a far sight harder to do than you imply without even going into where you get the cells to work with.


Troll(y) bait.

Some Guy

This decision makes sense. Tesla can use all 2170s for the model 3, and can continue its existing supply contract for the 18650s. As the are making a healthy margin on every vehicle (which they subsequently invest in growth), they have access to more cells than just from the Gigafactory this way. Also, Panasonics production lines are running with high efficiency, and cells will get cheaper also there once the manufactring equipment is depreciated.


They are probably still hand-building 2170 packs. Better to keep the existing supply chain for the older models.


Yes, the last we heard anything official (about a month or so ago) they were still building packs by hand, and had not completed their plans to automate building battery packs.

There is absolutely no way they could put them in the Model S or X until they automated that step. In fact, they are going to need to complete that automation long before the planned Sept. ramp-up in TM3 build numbers, or the planned Sept ramp-up isn’t going to happen.

Jake Brake

Bulls***. The 70mm height comes from them having 5mm of dead air in height in the 18650 model s pack. 120kWh 400 mile model s is coming in a bit.

Chris O

I was sort of expecting that with the introduction of Model 3 the whole line up would switch to new pack designs with improved energy density and charging rates.

Guess not.


Changing the cells in the S & X would require a ton of work and major redesign and new parts / equipment. I assume as do others that they will do this to coincide with a major refresh/update of that model. Just not worth spending more than you have to on an older form factor….


Remember when Elon said that the Model S won’t get a battery upgrade anytime soon in December 2014, because the Roadster got it’s 400 mile upgrade, and then halve a year later the 90 came?

Micke Larsson

IF the 2170 cell actually cuts the price as much as Tesla has been talking about then of course it will make it into the S and X.

Anything else would be idiotic.

Either the 2170 cell was no good or Elon has finally learned not to talk about what is coming the the cars so that buyers wait for the next thing instead of buying today.

George Bower

Argonne estimated the cost savings for going to a larger cell. Thet estimated a 17% cost decrease if you cut the number of cells in half:



George, good link. Yes, the change in form factor alone gets Tesla 17%. That means at the same volume of production, just changing from 18650’s to 2070’s is good for 17%.

But if you re-read your link, you will see that Argonne also says that increasing the volume by 100K cars will yield an additional 12% reduction in costs. This is on top of the 17% cost reduction from going to 2070’s.

The Model S and X would benefit from both types of cost reductions of they were switched to 2070’s. Especially if volume savings are for 500K cars/yr instead of just the 100K that Argonne’s estimates were based upon.


If the 2170s were dramatically cheaper or more energy dense than current 18650s, as many here claim, Tesla would shift the Model S and X to 2170 ASAP. The existing contract is nearing the end and could easily be bought out.

2170s ARE a big improvement over 2012-era 18650s, but that’s no surprise. People have simply misinterpreted statements from Tesla execs. Battery progress is slow and steady. Three yards and a cloud of dust. 2170s use the latest chemistry tweaks and gain a slight packaging advantage. A few percent here and there does not justify a redesign of the Model S/X packs.

The next version of S/X will probably use 2170s, to simplify logistics if nothing else.


“2170s use the latest chemistry tweaks and gain a slight packaging advantage. A few percent here and there does not justify a redesign of the Model S/X packs.”

The stated intent of the Gigafactory is to use extreme vertical integration, starting with raw materials as far as possible, to reduce manufacturing & material processing costs; and also to achieve better economy of scale with an enormous volume from a single factory.

Saying that all costs savings aside from tweaking the chemistry are trivial… well, that’s groundless speculation on your part. In fact, if what you’re saying turns out to be true, then there is no way Tesla can make a profit on the Model 3. Obviously I, along with every other EV advocate, very much hope that Tesla can sell the Model 3 in its intended price range at a profit. If Tesla can’t, then it will be a major disaster for the company, and would at the least make Tesla’s survival rather questionable.

Gigafactory Process Flow chart:


We’ll see if/when “rail cars run from the mine mouth to the Gigafactory loading dock”.

Scale and integration have advantages up to a point, but it’s a game of diminishing (and eventually negative) returns.

If such huge vertical integration cost savings are there for the picking, why is the world horizontally integrated?


“No plans to change cell form factor for X and S”

Honestly that is gibberish, and doesn’t really answer the dude’s question. Unexpected for EM to respond in such a non-direct manner.

Plenty of leeway to change plans once Model 3 is up and running.


I agree. The “no plans” terminology just means they aren’t doing it now, not that it will never happen.

The minute it makes sense for Tesla, they will make their plans and one day the Model S/X configuration pages will show up with a new battery option with little prior warning.


18650 cells are the current standard for all lithium configurations. It makes total economic sense to keep this form factor and not retool the factories and redesign. However, the gigaplant is going to be churning out a new form factor that will eventually be adopted in other manufacturing areas like lithium garden tools and power tools. Once this happens the 2170 could easily become the new form factor and a retooling and efficiency level of the Model S and X will surely follow.


When Tesla try to put down the model 3 by listing all the things model S has and the model 3 doesn’t. I’ll remind them that the model 3 has the new chemistry batteries (2170) and the model S doesn’t.

instant tq

then why not change to 2170 in S and X for them to have higher revenue due to lower production cost?


Musk now implying the Model 3 pack will have reduced performance compared to Model S pack.

I suggested bigger cells would lead to this.

If these cells have lower power density it will also mean slower DC charging. Will Tesla fans stop dumping on the Bolt if the Model 3 comes out with significantly slower charging than the S/X?


I seriously doubt Model 3 has significantly slower charging than the S and X.

Yes, the peak charging rate of the S and X 100 kwh pack will almost certainly be higher than that of the small battery 3, but the time to charge it will not be worse because it takes less juice to fill.

I have to think that Tesla engineered the Model 3 pack with extra cooling to offset the larger cells.

The cylindrical 2170s are still much smaller and easier to cool than the pouch cells used by the Bolt.


Please stop confusing form factor with cell chemistry.

Model S and X will continue to use the 18650 form factor, but as far as I know nothing has been said in public (by Tesla or Musk) about whether the 18650’s and 2170’s will have the same chemistry or not.


Never mind, saw that others have pointed out the same thing.

Pat Free

Agree Joel. That all the limit of the Apple-like marketing communication used by Tesla and Elon, never providing a very precise technical fact-sheet. From previous earning quotes in this comments stream, the capacity saving from chemistry in 2170 cells would only be 10% to 15% vs 18650 cells, most of the rest coming from larger cell formfactor or else. That could be put in 18650 at any time by Tesla and Panasonic, under the hood. But no mention on this. I understand the extreme criticality of volume production of the batteries, and the fact that moving all cars to 2170 this year would mean depending 100% on Gigafactory1 output and loosing the extra Panasonic capacity in Japan or elsewhere. Overtime for sure all cars will move to 2170, but it may not be this year or even next, and may need to wait for a major refresh of Model S&X. Still I’m missing the implications vs SuperCharger v3 > 3X faster charge rates (350KW will be for children toys when SC v3 will be there). For me this is the key discussion for purchasing current 100KWH Models S & X.


I understood from beginning at the small increase in length and diameter would allow for 2170 to fit in 18650 modules within a pack, but that increased percentage of chargeable material per call plus some small improvements to chemistry would result in fewer cells per module for the same-ish output per module at a lower cost (fewer cells) and lower weight (fewer cells) with a BONUS of additional coolant space (fewer cells=more coolant space) and logically faster charging rates due to wicking away of excess heat/hot spotting reduction. The same way that C or D cells in an old school flashlight had some give in length and width. The new 2170 modules would NOT be a drop in replacement for the existing 18650 modules in an existing car as many other changes would have to be done to account for all the changes to cell-module-pack voltage/management. So, theoretically a S or X could have a new 2170 pack (it would fit) but much re-engineering of other stuff would have to be done, so wait for the refresh and a few years production of the 3 and use up the contract for 18650s until then.


I meant to say that the number of modules would be the same, just with more spaces and some dummy space change about,


The more I read this article and all the comments, the more I think that “No plans to change cell form factor for X and S”, can only mean that Tesla may be planning a major refresh for Models S & X within 1 to 2 years maxi, say Model S2 and X2 comming, with plenty of innovations and new 2170 improved and cheaper cells, and current 1st Gen Models S & X will just stay forever on old less efficient 18650 cells… till they get replaced and go End of Life.


Musk “Model 3 pack is about cost reduction, not performance.”

So the 2170 cells are cheaper to build but not a superior technology according to Musk.

This would also align with Musk saying if people want the latest tech then they should look to the Model S and X for the most advanced technology.