Tesla: We Are Improving The Design Of Our Battery Cell

NOV 13 2018 BY MARK KANE 80

Production lines, battery modules and cells are evolving

Tesla distinguishes itself from other manufacturers because it constantly upgrades its cars (others apply changes in packages every few years).

That same policy Tesla utilizes in other areas like battery production at the Gigafactory. According to Tesla’s President of Automotive, Jerome Guillen, production at the Tesla Gigafactory evolves on various levels:

  • new production lines are installed so the effect of scale is bigger (output exceeds 20 GWh annually)
  • the design of production lines is improving
  • the design of 21700 (or 2170) lithium-ion cells is improving – there is “a nice roadmap of technology improvements for the coming years”

Recently, CNBC had an exclusive opportunity to check out the Gigafactory full of automated production lines, which provides about 5,000 Model 3 packs a week.

With progress on all fronts, there is huge potential to increase production even further.

As Electrek notes, the battery modules are going to be upgraded in the new Model 3. Elon Musk said:

“We came up with a new design that achieves the same outcome, that’s actually lighter, better, cheaper and will be introducing that around the end of this year, probably reach volume production on that in Q1 or something. That will make the car lighter, better, and cheaper and achieve a higher range. That line is under construction, will be active in about six months.”

Improving battery production efficiency and reducing costs (below $100 kWh/kWh on cell level) will bring Tesla closer to profitable on the $35,000 Model 3 and in general on future more affordable electric cars.

Source: Electrek

Categories: Battery Tech, Tesla

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80 Comments on "Tesla: We Are Improving The Design Of Our Battery Cell"

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pjwood1

Stories on Twitter floating around Giga receiving lots of boxes labelled “minerals”.

Good news. The bigger the improvement, the better, especially if 200KWh packs are coming.

David H

Could you provide a link, maybe to photos?

theflew

I like the graph that shows cell prices for the global automakers and Tesla. It looks like in 2019 global automakers will be paying about the same as Tesla for the equivalent cell. So the CNBC news story is basically useless and Tesla has no advantage in cell pricing. But the other automakers have huge advantages in vehicle manufacturing cost.

amt

Let’s Have Another Drink ! Yeeee HA Ha ! …… 🙂

theflew

Maybe you should watch the video and look at the cell price chart. I didn’t create that.

Else

I don’t watch anything cnbc

Get Real

Dream on flew!

theflew

No need to dream the chart is in the video I didn’t produce. Where’s your proof to the contrary?

Pushmi-Pullyu

“…Tesla has no advantage in cell pricing.”

Dude, you’ve drunk waaaaaay too much of the Tesla bashers’ Kool-Aid. 🙄

And Tesla’s advantage in sheer quantity of supply is an even bigger advantage over other EV makers than its lower cost per kWh.

“Quantity has a quality all its own.” — Thomas A. Callaghan Jr., U.S. defense consultant (but misattributed to Carl von Clausewitz)

theflew

Did you look at the graphic shown? I didn’t make my comment up. Also quantity doesn’t reduce the fixed cost. Just because you produce more doesn’t mean your cost goes to zero.

Joe

Cost is driven down by economies of scale (aka more quanity), that’s economics 101. It’s not the only factor in driving down costs, but it’s a big one. Considering Tesla built their own battery factory years before anyone else and also use it to produce energy storage products, you can clearly see their advantage (if you wanted to). Finally, the cells Tesla uses and the cells the others use are not equivalent by a long-shot, other than being the same general technology of li-ion. The form-factor is different, the chemistry is different, the manufacturing process is different.

Here’s a better chart:comment image

andi_nan

Maybe you are right, maybe not.

But tell me, which OEM has experience with manufacturing 5000 battery-packs a week? No one!

the dane

Plenty of cell manufacturers have a decade experience in dealing out large amounts of cells. Both Nissan and BMW have experience from manufactoring large amounts of packs, and BYD are roughly in the same league as Tesla. I see no reason to assume that US or European companies for that sake can compete with Chineese and Korean companies in the long run. Tesla is the new kid on the block, and has yet to prove they can stay competitive on all levels in the long run.

antrik

Actually, the output of Tesla/Panasonic now dwarfs the other established cell makers; the largest Chinese makers (CATL, BYD) are the only ones that even come close. Same for packs: Tesla’s output dwarfs Nissan or BMW, and the biggest Chinese makers (BYD, BAIC) are the only ones coming close.

TomArt

Are you aware that Panasonic runs Tesla’s cell manufacturing and R&D? Musk isn’t doing this stuff from scratch himself.

tim

The Bolt’s tech is about on par with the original Tesla roadster, maybe a little ahead, but now where near the 2012 Model S. The new Jag is almost up to the 2012 Model S. The Leaf is behind the Bolt, and I haven’t seen the Kona, but it might be ahead of the Bolt a little. All I see is every other car company being 5 to 7 years behind Tesla at best. Having inexpensive batteries and manufacturing doesn’t do you any good if your products are that far behind. It’s like being able to make flip phones far cheaper than other phone companies.

antrik

The graph is not very telling due to poor choice of scaling — but it shows that Tesla is expected to keep a 10% – 20% edge in battery cell costs going forward. If you think that’s no advantage, think again.

TomArt

theflew – nobody knows what the cells cost Tesla, because they never divulge it. However, their continued use of the small cylindrical cells, as well as their vertical integration with the gigafactory and partnership with Panasonic, gives every reason to safely assume that they have the lowest costs per kWh in the automotive industry. They wouldn’t be able to have the excellent gross margins on the S and X all these years if they were not ahead of the cost curve!

floydboy

Man, Tesla is a job creation machine!

Else

Specially at CNBC, promise you will bash Tesla. You are hired.

Benz

“We came up with a new design that achieves the same outcome, that’s actually lighter, better, cheaper and will be introducing that around the end of this year, probably reach volume production on that in Q1 or something. That will make the car lighter, better, and cheaper and achieve a higher range. That line is under construction, will be active in about six months.”

There will be many more improvements, it’s just a matter of time.

EV’s are going up, and ICE vehicles are going down.

The results will be displayed through the trend of the growing marketshare of EV’s.

silversod

Talk about polar opposites! Tesla announces that they’re improving battery cells whilst some of the other legacy auto manufacturers are throwing their toys out the pram complaining that the emission limits are too strict, they deserve everything that’s coming to them.

Ocean Railroader

If Tesla were able to drop the weight of the battery pack by 5% and raise the capacity of a 100 kilowatt Tesla to most likely 105 kilowatts or 110 or in a ultra extreme case to 120 kilowatts.

That alone would be a major battery breakthrough that would raise capacity at the gigafactory 10% using the existing machines.

What would be neat is if Tesla raised the capacity of their powerwalls by 20% or 50% by using nothing but new battery tech.

phEVfan

Lighter doesn’t mean smaller. The cells are still the same size (2170) so to get to 105 or 110kWh they would need a larger battery (by volume). Not likely to happen to the 100kWh pack. Maybe the smaller ones.

lo

2170 is solely for TM3

Richard

I think he was referring to chemistry improvements. On average cells improve about 7% a year so technically the kWh battery capacity of the GF1 improves 7% a year just on chemistry improvements alone.

Ocean Railroader

That’s what I meant if the amount of watts being able to be fitted into a battery goes up by 7% in the same battery over a old model then the capacity of the factory goes up.

Or if they make the existing cell lighter from a weight stand point but keep the same sized cell.

Kungen

when tesla changes the model S and model X over to the 2170 format we will se either a increase in battery pack sizes or a Car weight reduction or maybe a bit of both

Richard

I think the energy density by volume is also better in the 2170.
The performance of S and X is going to improve dramatically, which is crazy!

wavelet

Tesla is hardly the only carmaker involved in battery research… It’s disingenuous to imply it.

VW Group invested in QuantumScape (solid-state batteries), BMW Group in the startup Solid State (ditto), Daimler in StoreDot (batteries for ultra-fast charging), Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi in Enevate (ultra-dense batteries & fast charging) and GM & Honda have a combined $85M deal to develop batteries (cells & modules).

Of course, there’s lots of other battery startups working on numerous battery issues with various other funding sources.

rey

of course all these companies you have mentioned are all talking but have nothing to show us yet., in other words talk is cheap.

Umangi Singh

Elon Musk has made no announcements about solid state batteries.
Fanboys just hate it when other care companies make advancements.
This is good for everyone.

Paul Smith

Elon has also surprised us with developments well ahead of the competition. Remember, the others still don’t have a car competitive with Tesla. No, the i-Pace is no where near as efficient and not produced in realistic numbers.

Get Real

But, such facts are inconvenient for Umangi, flee and other serial anti-Tesla poster chilildren here.

What is important here is that advancements and cost reductions are being made and everyone will benefit from the rEVolution.

tjr

Tesla ahead in battery tech? Check this out: https://electrek.co/2018/09/07/bmw-i3-100-kwh-battery-pack-lion-smart/
Where is Tesla so much more advanced compared to the iPace in battery tech or to the Q6 e-tron? They all offer over 90kwh of capacity. Tesla has a higher range because of the lower drag mainly. But battery tech is pretty much on par already. And the Porsche Taycan (due out out next year) has arguably a much better battery and BMS.

Richard

The jag Ipace is nearly 20% less efficient than the TeslaX.That is a lot. What is worse for Jag is the X and S are using the old battery form factor. It is heavier and less efficient than the model3 pack.
When Xand S get the new chemistry, form factor and pack in 2020. Nothing will come close.

antrik

The Lion Smart stuff is nowhere near production. So indeed Tesla is way ahead of them.

The e-tron quattro (there is no Q6 in there) has a 95 kWh battery that weighs 700 kg. Tesla has 100 kWh batteries that weigh ~600 kg, and ~80 kWh batteries that weigh ~450 kg.

arne-nl

Solid state batteries are still vapourware. It’s easy to sell vapourware.

Noticed that Tesla doesn’t do concept cars etc? They only show stuff that they actually can and will produce, not vapourware.

Nozuka

Tesla Roadster comes to mind. It is not the production ready version. Didn’t even have a finished interieur when they showed it.
Just because they will make it eventually, does not mean its not a concept.

Dante

It’s a prototype, not a concept. It actually moves as quickly as it’s claimed to move and actually gets test driven and is actually going to be mass produced.

Richard

Actually Panasonic must be working on it because they said it is ten years away. Tesla would be involved too via Jeff Dahn.
So it is definitely coming and I believe Panasonic will be at the forefront of commercializing it.

Pushmi-Pullyu

As I recall, both Elon Musk and J.D. Straubel have said that Tesla has no near-term plans to use solid-state batteries. As I recall, they think it’s going to be at least 5 or 10 years before that tech becomes useful to Tesla. Of course it’s possible that some “dark horse” competitor will emerge with something sooner, but don’t make any large wagers on that happening!

Richard

Yes they have. Panasonic have said they are ten years away.

antrik

Elon mentioned that he expects lithium metal anodes (the relevant aspect of most solid state designs) in about 5 – 7 years. That’s totally in line with what most other makers claim.

(He didn’t mention solid state electrolytes explicitly — but these are just a means to an end. If lithium metal anodes should become viable without solid state electrolytes, all the better!)

EV Ter

They have good results in the marketing space and to confused people.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Talk is very cheap in the high-tech battery startup business. For some reason, that industry has always been notable for the extremely high percentage of claims which are at best greatly exaggerated, at worst outright B.S.

We can hope that QuantumScape or some other startup will actually start making commercial solid-state cells, but until they actually start selling them in quantity, it’s best to be extremely skeptical of any claims from such companies.

the dane

Why is it all americans only see Tesla? Do you actually read papers or fact-based research and not just blogs?
Tesla accounts for less than half the packs produced on a global level. One could suspect that the other manufacturers are also improving their products?
There is so much more to masking greener cars than just big cheap packs. Theres has to be a complete and competitive eco-system involving mining, producing and recycling batteries but also producing green electricity for the grid.
US has a really block grid with plenty of fossils in the mix. Filling up a Tesla is not just green, but involves consuming large amounts of coal and natural gas.
It takes time to change the world, and Tesla will also get a hard time working on recycling and grid-mix in the us.

antrik

Funny you mention battery recycling and clean electricity, considering that both of these are areas Tesla is actively involved in…

TomArt

Tesla’s design for all gigafactories is to be able to take old packs in, and put new packs out, zero waste-to-landfill facilities. I do not know how far GF1 is on that. The facility isn’t finished, yet, so we’ll see soon enough.

antrik

Zero waste is unrealistic. But they certainly aim to recover the valuable parts…

wavelet

Investment money isn’t, duh.
It’s excellent that Tesla is concentrating on fine-tuning current battery chemistries for the near term and increasing production. It’s just as important that research still goes on on various other battery techs.
The first commercial Li-Ion batteries, without which modern EVs would not be possible, date to <30 years ago, and decades of research were needed to get there
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#History
If noone researches new technologies today, improvement will be limited to economies of scale.

I don't think solid-state will be a thing in the next few years either, but it still needs to be worked on, as do improvements in charging.

EV Ter

We should include GE also in the list. They also invested a lot. As long as you don’t ask for results, they are on top with the other names you mentioned

antrik

I don’t see anyone implying Tesla is the only car maker involved in battery research — but nice straw man you got there…

wowlfie

Tesla had better be investing in alternate battery technologies which some are about to be commercialized that will revolutionize the industry.

G2

Do you suggest that people with new designs or methods wouldn’t approach Tesla first or that Tesla doesn’t actively keep touch with various groups around the world?
That would be a poor assumption to make.

EVer

If I’m a battery innovator and I’ve got a new astounding battery, I would license my product to the company with the largest battery market and capability to manufacture my batteries…that would be Tesla/Panasonic. That’s why one can expect Tesla to lead the charge into battery tech.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Right. Unless the next battery breakthru comes from one of the handful of companies which have exclusive contracts with another auto maker, Panasonic and Tesla are in the best position to take advantage of any innovations or inventions in the field of secondary (rechargeable) batteries.

The worry that some other auto maker is suddenly going to start putting better or cheaper batteries than Panasonic’s into their EVs, isn’t a very realistic concern. Any battery cell breakthroughs are more likely to benefit Tesla than other EV makers.

Nozuka

I would either choose the one who will pay me the most or license it to more than one manufacturer.
Tesla isn’t the manufacturer with the deepest pockets and doesn’t need it that badly. So i think Tesla getting it first is not a sure bet.

antrik

Tesla/Panasonic are investing more in EV battery production than any other maker… So I don’t see how “deep pockets” would apply here.

I don’t expect them to get exclusive licenses to new technology. But precedent suggests that Tesla is likely to be the first ones to get new technology into products, while other car makers are much more conservative.

the dane

But Tesla has an agreement to buy at Panasonic, so you would probably go to some large OEM that sells to different car manufacturers. That’s the downside to the marriage with Panasonic, Tesla does not stand to benefit from breakthoughs besides thosse they make with Panasonic.
Other manufacturers can buy freely in a competitive market with many sellers.

antrik

Tesla is not married to Panasonic. If for some reason Panasonic failed to keep up with technology advances, Tesla can switch suppliers. (They said so explicitly.)

No idea why you think innovators would *not* to to Panasonic, though…

wavelet

Not at all.
If you’re a startup, you’re more likely to start with any paying customer, and you’re not likely to have a choice of many first customers simultaneously.
That actual first customer is _not_ likely to be the company with the biggest market — they’re less likely to risk large production on completely new tech.
That’s not how innovation or the startup space works.
Just getting a meeting with whomever in charge of battery tech at Tesla is likely to be much more difficult than the equivalent person at PSA, or Hyundai/Kia.

antrik

First step is sending working cells for evaluation. If they can do that, arranging a meeting should become a breeze…

Pushmi-Pullyu

No, Tesla’s partner Panasonic had better be investing in that. Tesla has enough irons in the fire already. Tesla needs to concentrate its finite resources on building BEVs and battery packs, not battery cells. R&D into better battery cells is better left to companies specializing in that.

Kdawg

We need some Gigafactory video of the robots & automation with a soundtrack of Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
https://youtu.be/GDpmVUEjagg

lo

How about a Chemical brothers clip (with a production robot)? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLfF8LluVgE

Pushmi-Pullyu

“the design of 21700 (or 2170) lithium-ion cells is improving – there is ‘a nice roadmap of technology improvements for the coming years’ ”

What a tease!

What kind of improvements? Merely improvement in energy density by continuing to fiddle with the basic chemistry, which is ongoing and therefore more or less certain? Or will there be more radical changes, possibly to the internal structure?

Might there be further reduction or even elimination of the amount of cobalt?

TomArt

There could be improvements to the physical structure, yes. That is one way that Tesla cut costs on their batteries since the original Roadster – since the pack has thermal management and short-circuit management, they removed such safety features from the individual commodity 18650s. That significantly reduced costs, and they have continued that in all of their cells since. There could be more, but less huge/obvious, improvements to be made on the 21700s.

arne-nl

“and will be introducing that around the end of this year”

“That line is under construction, will be active in about six months.”

Did anyone notice the contradiction? Or did Elon say that some time ago?

Nozuka

“introducing” could just be announcing some details about it.

antrik

He is talking about introducing internal improvements to their production technology, not public product announcements…

the dane

Noticed, but assumed it was just more of the BS habit the automotive industry has – “introduce it” now only to deliver months or years later.

antrik

The quote is from the Q2 earnings call, i.e. early August.

TomArt

Remember, it’s Elon Time – must add at least a factor of 2! 😀

In all seriousness, I think the quote from Musk about introductions into vehicles will be “Q1 or whatever”, which falls in line with a statement made in October about a line being up and running in 6 months.

Q2 is a safe bet, IMHO.

Else

Why do the let CNBC inside a Tesla facility?.these guys are nothing but anti Tesla. No one has ever purchase a Tesla because of CNBC reporting, on the contrary.
Among others,they brought in Bob (lol) Lutz multiple times to bash Tesla.

arne-nl

Just the opposite: if they bash Tesla, that’s when you should let them in and show them all you’re doing. Seeing is believing.

antrik

CNBC is not a homogenous entity. They have one of the biggest Tesla trolls writing for them (haven’t seen any of their hit pieces for a while though…), but also a bunch of people doing more or less neutral reporting.

Al D

Li-ion batteries with a liquid electrolyte will never be good enough for me. It’s solid-state or bust.

Get Real

What a repetitive troll you are.

antrik

Would be funny if it should turn out lithium metal anodes actually get to market with liquid electrolytes (and maybe even sulphur cathodes), while solid state electrolytes never get off the ground at all 😛