Tesla Cybertruck battery cells get 10% boost in energy density

Tesla still hasn’t revealed its Cybertruck or disclosed an exact timeline for when it will reveal specs and prices. The electric automaker announced that it built one July 15 on Twitter, of course, where Tesla CEO Elon Musk doubles as the social media platform’s executive chairman.

On Wednesday, during its quarterly update for investors, the company and its leadership team revealed a few more technology tidbits about this eagerly anticipated electric truck. 

One of them is that the Cybertruck will get a newer, more energy-dense version of Tesla’s 4680 cells that already go into the Model Y. 

“Here in Texas we’re preparing to launch our Cybertruck cell, which has 10% higher energy density than current production,” said Drew Baglino, senior VP for powertrain and energy engineering. “That was accomplished through process and mechanical design optimization.”

Comparing 4680 vs. 2170 - Panasonic

Comparing 4680 vs. 2170 – Panasonic

Initial 4680 cells are comparable in energy density to the 2170 cells Tesla uses otherwise, so the optimization is noteworthy. Tesla has also been reportedly readying a high-nickel version of these cells.

Tesla continues to work through the vision that was revealed at its 2020 Battery Day—one that might potentially allow it to cut its battery cell cost in half over the long run, partly by championing the new cell format. Baglino said that Tesla’s cell production increased 80% in Q2 versus Q1 at its battery factory in Austin, Texas, and the team passed 10 million production cells made there. 

Cross-section of future Tesla cell

Cross-section of future Tesla cell

Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains

Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains

Otherwise, Tesla said that it’s now testing the Cybertruck around the world for final certification and validation—and proving new ideas.

“This might be the most unique vehicle product in decades; with that comes trialing and testing new technologies,” according to Tesla’s quarterly report. “Both technologically and architecturally, this vehicle will break a lot of boundaries—very much in line with how we think about vehicle engineering and manufacturing.”

“I do want to emphasize that the Cybertruck has a lot of new technology in it—like a lot,” Musk reiterated, without revealing any examples but instead seeming to temper expectations for a steep production ramp. 

Musk explained there will be something in the order of 10,000 unique parts and processes in the Cybertruck, and the ramp will depend on the “least well-executed elements of the 10,000.”

Tesla Cybertruck final testing

Tesla Cybertruck final testing

Cybertruck volume production in 2024, deliveries in 2023

Although the rate of the ramp is yet to be determined, Musk emphasized delivery is imminent.

“We’ll be making them in high volume next year, and we will be delivering the car this year,” he said. 

Tesla claimed that as far as it knows, the Cybertruck will be the first truck that’s less than 19 feet long with four doors and a bed more than six feet long. 

2019 Tesla Cybertruck Prototype (Petersen Automotive Museum)

2019 Tesla Cybertruck Prototype (Petersen Automotive Museum)

Most American garages in newer-build houses tend to be at least 20 feet long based on interior walls, which would leave just 6 inches ahead of and behind the truck with the garage door closed. Many garages are 22 feet deep though, which allows about a foot and a half ahead of and behind it. 

Pricing remains unknown, though Musk commented on pricing of the electric truck competition. In a tweet regarding the nearly $10,000 price drop for the F-150 Lightning pricing, Musk said: “The Ford Lightning is a good vehicle, just somewhat expensive, especially given the high interest rates these days for any kind of loan.”

Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla Cybertruck

Will the Cybertruck start at $39,900?

Tesla revealed the Cybertruck in November 2019, with three models: a Single Motor version with 250+ miles of range and starting at $39,900, a Dual Motor AWD version with 300+ miles of range costing $49,900, and a Tri Motor AWD version with 500+ miles of range costing $69,900. Tesla removed those prices and specs in October 2021, fueling speculation that it would raise them significantly and reconfigure the truck. 

Could the boost in energy density mean more range? Although the company hasn’t yet disclosed what it means, it could help boost the value of the vehicle whether it does or doesn’t raise the price.

At least one of the analysts on Tesla’s Wednesday call asked whether Tesla will need to lower its prices across the board once again later this year depending on economic conditions, but the Tesla CEO seemed to say that certainly won’t be a problem for the Cybertruck. 

“Demand is so far off the hook you can’t even see the hook, so that’s really not an issue,” Musk boasted. 

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