Tesla CEO Elon Musk wants to mass-produce the 4680 battery as soon as possible. This will make the company’s electric cars cheaper and provide higher performance. But Musk faces huge challenges, both in terms of building a new battery factory or expanding the battery manufacturing process.
Unfortunately, predictions are not optimistic. Many analysts think Elon Musk and his company wouldn’t be able to mass-produce new batteries this year. We understand that Musk is known for making impossible things real. But opening a new factory and developing a new way of making batteries could present too many challenges.
When saying this, we mean a list of factors that would prevent Tesla from reaching its goal. To start with, prices for battery raw materials such as nickel hit record highs this week. In January, Musk predicted that battery supply would be affected next year, making in-house mass production of batteries key to Tesla’s growth. But everything happened sooner.
“He is changing the way how battery manufacturing is done,” said Shirley Meng, a University of Chicago professor who previously worked with Maxwell, a battery technology company acquired by Tesla. “It’s really, really difficult to manufacture at a speed and at scale.”
Gene Munster, a managing partner of venture capital firm Loup Ventures, said: ” I think they will probably fall short of the ramp-up of 4680 over the next year.” Munster believes that in the long run, it looks like Tesla will achieve its goals. But given its history of producing new models, it will be a slow start.
Musk said that the mass production of batteries will be difficult. But it’s crucial to his goal of making electric cars with lower prices and longer ranges. Only then, Tesla can maintain its market leadership among a growing number of competitors.
Like other automakers, Tesla sources its batteries from suppliers such as Panasonic, CATL, and LG Energy. At the end of 2020, Musk announced that Tesla aims to halve the cost of the most expensive components of electric vehicles by producing its own batteries.
Tesla’s 4680 battery is 46mm in diameter and 80mm long and can store five times the energy of the current 2170 battery. Tesla vehicles can achieve the same level of energy storage and range with a smaller number of new batteries, thereby reducing the cost of the entire vehicle.
Tesla plans to deliver the Model Y electric cars with 4680 batteries by the end of March this year. In 2020, Musk announced that Tesla would be able to produce 100 GWh of 4680 batteries this year. It can be used in 1.3 million electric vehicles. This is sufficient to meet the production demand of two large factories in Texas and Berlin, Germany.
Tesla expects to deliver about 1.4 million vehicles this year. Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimates that about 30,000 Model Y vehicles are expected to be equipped with 4680 batteries. This number will increase to 484,000 by 2024.