12 months if not more than 18 months away, according to Tesla’s Elon Musk.
Tesla was silent about the progress on its next-generation 4680 cylindrical battery cells, announced at Battery Day in September 2020, in the Q1 2021 report and there is a reason for that.
It appears that bringing those cells into the market in volume is very challenging and might happen later than expected.
Tesla has a “small” pilot plant for the 4680 cells that is envisioned to produce 10 GWh per year (which is actually a lot), but Tesla’s Elon Musk explained during the first-quarter earnings call (via Teslarati), they are not there yet.
Actually, Tesla is not ready to move from the R&D/pilot stage to the volume production of those new cells. Elon Musk explains that the cells are not yet reliable enough to be put in cars:
“We’re not yet at a point where we think the cells are reliable enough to be put in cars. We think we’re close to that point. We’ve already ordered the equipment for battery production in Berlin and Austin as well. We’re down to the nitty gritty on this. I’m confident that we’d achieve volume production of the 4680 next year,” Musk said.
This is probably exactly what Panasonic pointed out recently when it underlined that the high technical requirement of precise, reliable production at a fast rate and high scale is the company’s advantage when it comes to 4680 lithium-ion batteries.
Volume production in 2022 would mean that we will wait at least a year. Elon Musk said even that it could be more than 18 months away:
“Musk also added that it appears that Tesla is about 12 or not more than 18 months away from volume production of the 4680 cells.”
Meanwhile, the company looks forward to using 4680 cells from existing suppliers – in this regard we are not surprised. It will be very interesting to see who will be the first to solve the technological challenges and come out in volume.
“At the same time, Tesla is also looking to ramp the 4680 cells with its existing suppliers. The 4680 revolution is not a Tesla-only thing. It will involve CATL and LG and Panasonic as well. Ultimately, Tesla is on track to more than double the output from suppliers.”
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