Breakdown: Tesla is looking for partners to build 4680 and possibly 4690 batteries in China
Tesla, at the company’s Battery Day event, announced it has achieved a breakthrough in battery chemistry and manufacturing.
The new 4680 batteries, so called due to their size (46cm by 80cm), include several improvements that add up to significant energy density and cost improvement over the already industry-leading 2170 cells of You’re here.
Among these improvements, the first is that Tesla removed the cobalt from the cathode and switched to a pure nickel cathode. Since cobalt is only added to batteries to increase their thermal stability, switching to a pure nickel cathode means less weight and better energy density.
Second, Tesla changed the anode material from graphite to silicon. The chemical properties of silicon allow it to store significantly more lithium ions than graphite for a given mass. This once again means better energy density and lower cost since silicon is essentially sand and is widely and readily available.
The third is that Tesla has increased the size of the batteries. This allowed Tesla to reduce the weight of inactive materials such as steel boxes that contain the active material inside. It also improved the energy density.
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These are just a few examples of how the new 4680 batteries are better than the 2170 cells. However, you can read a full rundown of all the improvements Tesla announced during the Battery Day event in my previous article.
As of yet, Tesla has yet to ship any vehicles with the 4,680 batteries. According to the electric vehicle maker’s Q2 2020 earnings call, Tesla is still working on a few issues before the company can consistently mass-produce the new battery cells.
Tesla is currently flattening the production process at the company’s Keto Road facility near its Fremont, California plant. And once that’s all sorted out, Tesla is expected to begin volume production of batteries at the company’s mile-long Gigafactory in Texas and the Giga Berlin battery plant now under construction.
It has also been mentioned in the past that Tesla is working with Panasonic to help set up a test production line to see if the latter is capable of producing the new 4680 cells.
At this time, it is not yet clear whether Tesla will share all of the company’s breakthroughs with Panasonic so that the Asian giant can produce cells identical to those to be produced by Tesla.
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However, now we have a new report from China indicating that Tesla, in addition to its in-house production, is also in talks with Chinese battery makers to produce the new 4680 cells.
The report comes from kr36.com, a Chinese news site that was able to speak to industry insiders in the country.
According to kr36, “Tesla started looking for cooperative manufacturers of 4680 large cylindrical batteries in China. In addition to the original battery suppliers CATL and LG Chem, Tesla is also in negotiations with Yiwei Lithium Energy and other battery manufacturers to produce the new cells.
The kr36 report says that, based on insiders the news site has been able to speak with, Tesla is looking to design the 4680 cells and outsource battery makers to handle volume production.
– Couple’s news (@torquenewsauto) August 31, 2021
As to when we can expect new 4680 cells produced by Tesla’s Chinese battery manufacturing partners, Kr36 said based on their sources that “this cooperation is still in its early stages. The 4680 large cylindrical battery is a new technology, and the general pace of the industry is to start mass production in 2023. “
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Kr36 says they contacted Tesla China to make sure the information was correct, however, the company declined to comment.
Still, one person who was ready to comment on the matter was Ji Yajuan, director of Yiwei Lithium Energy’s Basic Materials and Technology Research Bureau.
Ji Yajuan said his company “has developed two major models, 4680 and 4695, large cylindrical batteries. After 2023, the large cylindrical battery will gradually be introduced to the market.
From the kr36 reports, it was not clear whether the 4695 batteries were also intended for Tesla consumption or whether it was just Yiwei Lithium Energy’s internal project. However, LG Chem appears to be working on a new form factor, 4,690 cells, specifically for Tesla.
According to an anonymous source, “LG Chem has developed large cylindrical batteries, 4680 and 4690, one after another, in the hope of re-entering Tesla’s supply chain.
This is the first time we hear about 4690 cells, we don’t know why Tesla decided to have 2 form factors or if Tesla is considering replacing 4680 cells with 4690 cells. But we won’t miss you keep informed as soon as we have more information. Be sure to visit our site torquenews.com/Tesla regularly for the latest update.
So what do you think? Excited Tesla in talks with Chinese manufacturers to produce the 4680 cells? Do you also think Tesla is looking to replace the 4680 form factor with 4690 cells? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
For more, check out: Elon Musk Clarifies “Current FSD Isn’t Great” comment saying it’s amazing, but not by Tesla standards. See also Tesla Austin Texas – Stunning aerial video of the Giga factory
Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and the evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. It covers everything about Tesla, from cars and Elon Musk, to the energy sector and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for Tesla Daily News.