Tesla battery developments see range boosted and costs reduced

Tesla has revealed that it has dramatically altered its battery design, opening up the potential for significant range increases and price cuts for its electric vehicles.

It increases the chances of Tesla launching an affordable EV - pitched at $25,000 for its home US market - with significant driving ranges remaining thanks to improved battery technology.

Total developments amount to an expected 54% improvement in driving range, with five key areas targeted to be redesigned.

The advantages will start to be seen in around a year to 18 months, and the full extent of the battery developments will come in around three years as life-cycles complete.

Innovative cell design, materials, formation, & features, and assembly line developments, have combined to produce a significant boost in battery performance and production.

A new battery - the 4680 - sees improved energy density and costs, with manufacturing of the new physically larger cells already ramping up. Costs per kWh - a significant factor in determining the affordability of EVs - have been more than halved. The new batteries cost 56% less than the current cells.

Some of the new designs include a radical shift to the car's battery becoming a structural element within the make up. This sees a reduction in overall weight, with the main architecture now made up of two single cast elements - front and rear - joined by the battery.

This change also makes the car safer in the case of a crash, uses hundreds of fewer parts, and will improve the driving dynamics as well.

Changes see the ability to produce 1 TWh of battery capacity in less factory space that currently produces 150 GWh. It also represents a 69% reduction in investment per kWh.

The plan is to produce 100 GWh a year by 2022, scaling up to 3 TWh by 2030 - and that's on top of the battery capacities bought in from third-party manufacturers such as LG and Panasonic.

Announced as part of 'Battery Day', Tesla also launched the Model S Plaid, its longest-range and fastest model yet. Producing more than 1,100 hp, with a sub-2.0 second 0-60 mph time, and capable of hitting more than 200 mph, the latest version of the best-selling electric saloon will cover more than 520 miles on a charge.

Available to order now from £130,980, the latest model is likely to arrive in the UK with customers late next year.

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Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:22nd Sep 2020

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