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How Tesla's New Battery Will Destroy Gas Cars

 Tesla just had their battery day event where they announced some exciting battery technology breakthroughs that will change the future of electric cars. In this, the video we'll go over the most important parts of Battery Day so you can know what to expect from Tesla’s upcoming vehicles. Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the transition to sustainable energy which is obviously a huge task that requires a lot of batteries. 


Like a lot of batteries. So Tesla has two goals that their new battery technology hopes to solve: massively scaling battery production and producing more affordable battery cells. Currently, electric vehicles are still relatively expensive compared to gasoline vehicles mainly due to the high battery cost. Up to this point, Tesla has focused on vertical integration to minimize production costs meaning they aim to build their factories and vehicles themselves from the ground up. And now they’re doing this with batteries with a 5-step plan to cut the cost of batteries in half. Let’s take a look at these five steps. The first step is cell design. Tesla’s current battery design includes a separator tab and a jelly roll, though it sounds delicious is not to be eaten because it’s actually the wound film of electrodes. 

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The last timeTesla released a new battery was in 2017 with their 2170 cell that started shipping in model 3. To move to the next step in battery cell design, Tesla needs bigger cylindrical cells because those actually cost less. This brings us to Tesla’s brand new biggest battery cell ever: the 4680 tabless cell which has no separator tab and brings a huge amount of improvements including simpler manufacturing, fewer parts, and 5x reduction in electrical path meaning the electricity inside the cell travels a much shorter distance than before.


These new 4680 tablets battery cells also have 5 times the amount of energy, adding16% more range to vehicles, and 6 times the power as if Teslas didn’t already have enough power. It also allows for faster Supercharging times. These benefits are the core of what will move Tesla toward their overall mission: making their vehicles more affordable, making their vehicles travel further and making their vehicles charge faster. 


Those are so important for the mass adoption of EVs. Elon said this was extremely difficult for the tesla engineers to do and why it’s such a big deal. And these new battery cells arent just a prototype. Tesla said they’re already ramping the production of these batteries their new pilot plant in California. Elon said it will probably take about a year to get to 10 GWh annualized rate at the pilot plant, but either way, it’s happening right now. The second step in their plan is cell factory and how the batteries are made. The typical wet process is complicated and lengthy where the powders are mixed with water or solvent then they have to go into a dry oven then compressed into final density. The newer“Dry” process is an extremely more simple process which makes the powder directly into the film. 


This sounds great, but Elon definitely made it clear that this is very difficult and they’re still refining the process especially to scale. He basically said it’s working, but not at a high yield yet. They’re on a 4th generation machine for this dry process, and Elon estimates the 6th generation machine should have mass production capability. Who knows when that will be but when that does happen, the biggest benefits of dry battery electrode is a 10x footprint reduction and 10x energy reduction which is a massive improvement. 

Also with Tesla’s new high-speed continuous motion assembly their goal is to make one factory have the same production output as 2-3 factories with a 75% reduction in expenses and 10x smaller footprint. For example, the same amount of space that produced 150 GWhin 2018 now can produce 1TWh which is an exponential increase. 


Elon said that all other goals aside, Tesla’s biggest grand scheme goal is to be the best at manufacturing which will lead to major scalability. Tesla's internal battery cell production plan is 100GWh by2022 and 3TWh by 2030. The third step in their plan is anode materials. Bottom line: Tesla loves Silicon. It’s the most abundant element in earth crust after oxygen, and it stores9 times more lithium than graphite. 

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However, the bugaboo with Silicon is that it expands. So after many cycles, it starts to crumble and in technical terms gets “gooey”. To fix this, Tesla plans to design for expansion and use raw silicon then stabilize the surface through an elastic coating which will increase vehicle range by 20% and lead to cheaper electric vehicles. The fourth step is cathode materials. Cathodes are like bookshelves. A battery needs a stable structure to contain the ions. This structure cannot crumble or get gooey as the ions move back and forth. 


If there isn’t a stable structure the battery loses cycle life and degrades quickly. Cobalt is very stable but has its ethical and environmental woes. Tesla believes Nickel will solve this problem. Nickel is the cheapest metal and has the highest energy density, but Nickel needs to be stabilized. Well, Tesla’s high nickel cathode development aims to maximize nickel and remove cobalt which should lead to a 15% reduction in cathode cost. But Tesla doesn’t want to be constrained by nickel availability so they’re choosing a diversified cathode approach which will be a combination of iron and nickel depending on the product. 


Long-range vehicles like Cybertruck and Semi will be a high nickel. This simplified cathode manufacturing process should lead to major cost reductions. Tesla is also taking advantage of nickel and lithium mining for cathode production in North America for simpler mining and simpler recycling. There is significant untapped lithium clay. In fact, there’s enough lithium in Nevada to convert all the gasoline vehicles in the US to electric. Tesla has discovered a sustainable, environmentally friendly way of getting lithium by using table salt to extract the lithium. This new sulfate-free process has a 33% reduction in lithium cost. 


To prepare for Tesla’s Battery Day I was able to learn more about the basics of how electricity works through today's sponsor, Brilliant, which is the best place to learn about all things related to math and science. Brilliant is a website and app that has over 60 interactive courses to help you learn fundamental knowledge from things like basic mathematics to chemistry all the way to machine learning. Brilliant help you develop a true understanding of concepts by encouraging active problem solving through their courses, practice sections, and their Daily Problems.


 I recently took their course on Electricity and Magnetism where I learned about the principles of electricity by observing demonstrations that inspired Maxwell's famous field equations. If you're like me and you’re interested in electric vehicles it really does help to learn about the basics behind the technology. Go to Brilliant.org/AndySlye to sign up for free. Also, the first 200 people will get 20% off their annual premium membership so click the link below to get started today. 


The last step is cell vehicle integration. Elon said there’s a vehicle architecture that they’ve been working on for a long time and they finally figured it out. It starts with single piece casting for the front and rear, and Tesla achieved this by having the largest casting machine that’s ever been made and it’s currently in operation at the Fremont plant. By creating single piece castings of high-pressure die-cast aluminium, it leads to a 40% cost savings in the rear underbody and a reduction of 79 parts per car. Tesla also developed its own alloy that has never existed before. 


These Gigacasting innovations also use no heat-treating or coatings which is a big deal for reducing complexity and cost. These new castings will be connected to what they’re calling their new Structural Battery, which for the first time ever, is a dual-use Tesla battery, meaning it's used as an energy device and as a structure to the car. These structural batteries improve mass and range. This allows Tesla to pack battery cells more densely with no excess structure. The cells will be glued to the top and bottom sheets which will allow for cell transfers. It also makes for an incredibly stiff structure and lets Tesla move the cells closer to the centre of the car which improves safety. 


The simpler, smaller, integrated battery+ body factory of the future leads to a 10% mass reduction, 14% range increase opportunity, and 370 fewer parts. And so, at the beginning of Battery Day Tesla said their goal was to half the cost of battery production. Well after all five of these steps, Tesla can achieve a whopping 56% reduction in price per kWh. So if we stack up the benefits of Tesla’svertical integration we’re looking at a vehicle range increase of 54%, a price per kWh reduction of 56%, and wait for it, a reduction in investment per Gigawatt hour of 69%. Elon had to do it. 


Now even though Elon says it will take them around 3 years to fully realize these benefits, this still means that long term scaling will be massively increased. What does this mean for Tesla's future products? It means electric vehicle powertrains could cost less than combustion engines. As you can see from all of this, Tesla really focused on maximizing efficiency and reducing costs and complexity for their entire production process. 


They also kind of confirmed a fully autonomous $25k Tesla coming in a few years which I’m super excited about. Oh, and they also announced a brand new $140,000 PlaidModel S that goes 0-60 in less than 2 seconds and does a 1/4 mile in less than 9 seconds which if true beats the Lucid Air. And it has 520 miles of range. That’s a wrap onTesla Battery Day. What is the one thing that impressed you the most? Let me know in the comments below. My name is Andy. Thank you so much for watching.

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