Tesla has big plans for its battery tech, but expect a long wait

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One of the stranger conferences we’ve seen so far took place in the US yesterday as Tesla hosted its Battery Day.

While the event was livestreamed, there were also people at the event, though they were all seated inside Tesla vehicles, as you can see above.

The event started off with a shareholder meeting but then turned to announcements.

During the event, Tesla’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk outlined the problems the world faces related to climate change and hammered home the point once again that sustainable energy must be pursued with vigour.

One of the ways Musk foresees sustainability ramping up is through the availability of electric vehicles. As we’re all aware though, electric vehicles aren’t cheap so Musk’s plan is to halve the cost per kilowatt hour of batteries.

That’s a lofty aspiration and it gets even more ambitious when you learn that Tesla wants to essentially redesign the battery from the ground up.

During the presentation Tesla showcased how batteries have evolved from an 1865 form factor to a 2170 form factor. While a larger battery means more power it does have caveats such as taking longer to charge and heat becoming a problem.

Something interesting to note is that the name of the battery (1865, 2170 etc.) conveys the length and width of the cell.

Now traditionally batteries are comprised of layers and within those layers are anode and cathode tabs. But now Tesla is proposing a tabless architecture for batteries and the results are mind boggling.

The battery requires fewer parts, less manufacturing and its temperature is lower compared to traditional battery tech.

“The distance that electrons have to travel is just much less. You actually have a shorter path length in a larger tabless cell than you have in a smaller cell with tabs. So even though the cell is bigger it actually has better power to weight ratio than the smaller cell,” explained a gleeful Musk.

The headlines here are that these cells which take a 4680 form factor, yield five times more energy and increase range of electric vehicles by a factor of 16.

These batteries are already in production at Tesla’s factory but as Musk cautioned earlier this week, it will take some time for production to reach critical mass.

The ultimate goal for Tesla is to make make electric vehicles that cost less than a combustion engine and to do that its tightening up its supply chain and moving a lot of the production of batteries in house.

This along with better battery tech looks promising but it is about three years away.

Now, while Musk did touch on Tesla’s Plaid Powertrain which boasts a higher top speed and faster acceleration, investors don’t seem all that happy with the announcement.

According to a report by Reuters, Tesla’s value dropped by $50 billion following this presentation.

It seems that investors were expecting more than some advanced battery tech and plans to reduce costs in three years.

While we aren’t the biggest fans of Elon Musk, we can’t deny that what Tesla has presented here is incredibly interesting and could help battery powered tech in other spheres.

Sure, what Tesla presented isn’t tangible right now but what it promises is rather exciting or maybe Musk’s excitement is just that infectious.

You can watch the full Battery Day presentation below, the important stuff begins at 1:40:22.


Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.