According to details from recent filings discovered by Teslarati, Tesla has already started the expansion project at its Kato Road facility, near the Fremont factory. The US EV maker has been using the building on Kato Road as a pilot line to develop and produce its proprietary 4680 EV battery cells.
Tesla hasn't kept the Kato Road facility a secret. In fact, it has kept us apprised of the progress of pilot production and has been stockpiling its new 4680 battery cells for some time now. The automaker has also used the building for research, as well as other battery-related pursuits.
While the Materials Lab at Kato Road has been subject to ongoing upgrades, Tesla just officially filed for revisions to the expansion project at the facility in April 2023. Teslarati says Tesla first filed a permit to expand the Materials Lad way back in July 2021 and has been submitting additional paperwork and performing updates ever since. However, the most recent filings suggest Tesla is ready to move forward with actual expansion efforts.
With the Tesla Cybertruck on the way this year, different Model 3 and Model Y "trims" becoming available, and the potential for a refreshed Model 3, it makes sense that it could be time for Tesla to ramp up battery cell production.
Tesla shared its proprietary 4680 battery cells and future plans back in 2020 at its official Battery Day event, though it noted that it was something that wasn't going to come into play on a significant level for a few years. The cells are said to have higher energy density, longer life, and other advantages over the other cell formats Tesla currently uses in most of its vehicles.
That said, in order for Tesla to see the financial benefit of switching to 4680 cells, it has to get to the point that it can mass-produce them in-house, and more quickly and efficiently than other cell formats. The automaker has been working with the help of others to streamline the unique manufacturing process to get to the point that it makes sense to begin large-scale production.
Tesla has suggested in the past that it might decide to expand 4680 operations at the Kato Road facility, and it seems now is the time. The automaker has guided for the production of 1.8 million EVs in 2023, and CEO Elon Musk believes 2 million is possible. Perhaps this expansion project is a boost Tesla needs to make that happen.