4680 Battery, Tesla New Scythe


Recently, the Japan Broadcasting Association reported that Panasonic plans to buy land in the United States to build a large power battery factory, which may amount to billions of dollars of investment and will probably produce 4680 batteries for Tesla. And just a short time ago, Tesla tweeted that the pilot plant in California produced one million 4680 batteries in January, marking the 4680 battery's official entry into mass production.

Following Tesla's first 4680 battery launch at the Battery Day event in September 2020, any news of the 4680 battery has been quite a market concern. This new battery not only has a significant reduction in cost, but also a major improvement in range and charging. In the current period when battery technology needs a breakthrough, the emergence of the 4680 battery will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the entire industry chain.

The first to bear the brunt of the battery industry, who can be the first to achieve mass production of 4680 batteries, who will be able to grasp the initiative in the market. For car companies, bear the pressure brought by Tesla at the same time, who can be one step faster in mass production models using 4680 batteries, naturally can also kill a way out in the competitive market.

There is no doubt that the 4680 battery will lead the change of power battery and also shape a new market pattern for a period of time.

5 times more energy in a single cell

In the development process of car electrification, range and cost have been the important factors that restrict pure electric vehicles to achieve full market penetration quickly. Battery as a breakthrough point has been the focus of the efforts of various car companies and battery manufacturers.

In September 2020, Tesla debuted its disruptive 4680 battery at the Battery Day event, which caused an uproar. The first reason for such a reaction from the industry is that the 4680 battery is significantly different from traditional batteries in terms of cell structure.

As we all know, the batteries of existing electric vehicles are presented in a modular form. A dozen individual batteries are connected in series into a group, then a dozen groups are connected in series into one piece, and finally dozens of pieces are packaged into a battery pack. One problem with this connection is that the battery lugs take up a lot of space and the cost of the lugs is not low.

The so-called battery lugs, in fact, is the battery raised parts, respectively connected to the positive and negative electrodes. Its role is to represent the output end of the battery electrode, but also the battery is most likely to overheat inside the place. The biggest difference between the 4680 battery released by Tesla and the existing battery is that the lugs are cut directly from the positive and negative electrodes, shortening the lug spacing while also increasing the lug area.

This feature allows the 4680 battery to no longer follow the group-to-block or block-to-pack format, but to directly fuse the cells into one. This not only reduces the size and cost of the entire pack, but also makes the conductive area between the cells larger, which in turn makes the transmission efficiency of the cells higher and effectively solves the heat dissipation problem of high energy density cells.

More importantly, this structural design not only simplifies the production process of the factory, but also helps to reduce the weight of the body.

Secondly, the 4680 also takes a new approach to battery materials by using silicon and carbon anode materials.

Theoretically, the energy density of silicon carbon cathode is more than 8% higher than that of traditional graphite cathode, and the physical energy density can be increased by more than 10%. At the same time, because the voltage of graphite anode is very close to the deposition potential of lithium, silicon-based anode materials have better safety in comparison. And silicon material is widely available, low cost, is an environmentally friendly raw materials.

In addition, in the battery production process, the Tesla 4680 battery uses dry electrode technology, eliminating the traditional battery placement solution and drying process, saving solvent expenses and laminating machine costs, while also solving the problem of capacity loss if the lithium and carbon in the solvent can not be fused, thus increasing the battery energy density by about 5%.

Tesla official data shows that the energy density of 4680 battery will reach 300kWh/kg, the single energy of 4680 cell is increased by 5 times, the range of the whole vehicle is increased by 16%, the output power is increased by 6 times, and the cost is reduced by 14%.

And currently Tesla has achieved mass production 4680 battery, in fact, a single battery power is 98Wh. compared to the old 2170 battery 18.875Wh, the power are up to more than five times.

However, it should be noted that the Model Y long range version for sale requires 4416 2170 batteries, when replaced with an integrated body structure with 4680 new batteries, the number of batteries required is actually between 800-840. So a 4680 battery can offset five 2170 batteries, does not mean that the range of Model Y will be five times more.

Of course, the current mass production 4680 battery may not be the final form. According to Troy Teslike, a long-time Tesla news tracker, the 4680 battery is still only the first generation, and will continue to evolve next year, increasing energy density to 108Wh and 118Wh. that is, the Tesla 4680 battery will grow by about 20% in the future.

You can be sure that, with continuous iteration, gradually break through the consumer mileage anxiety, 4680 battery will also have a considerable impact on the traditional fuel car companies and new energy car companies pattern.

Two fists "against" four hands

No matter from which perspective, 4680 battery is indeed a great progress, and it is beyond the industry's expected speed into mass production phase, which for traditional fuel cars and new energy vehicles of the existing pattern, will cause a considerable turmoil.

First of all, the new energy car companies. Tesla CEO Musk has said outright that the 4680 battery is a "huge breakthrough" in technology that will make it possible for his company to produce electric cars priced at $25,000.

Understand that this is $17,000 cheaper than the standard range version of the Tesla Model 3, the cheapest Tesla currently on sale. The current $25,000 range of electric vehicles is a relatively go-to section of pure electric vehicles, mainly covering in the A-class models of electric vehicles.

It can be imagined that if the $25,000 model with 4680 battery is successfully launched, then it will become a butcher's knife in the hands of Musk, wielding, the domestic new energy market will be bloodied.

The second is the traditional fuel car. At present, the traditional fuel car is still the primary object of consumer purchase, the main reason is the range and energy supplement efficiency.

Generally speaking, a tank of fuel can last 500-600km, regardless of the season, load, whether to open the air conditioner, the impact on the range of the mileage is not much; while the current pure electric car range of about 500km, if you open the air conditioner, increase the load, high-speed driving, range also discount, such as in cold areas, the range decay more.

In addition is the energy supplement, compared to the current number of charging piles, the number of gas stations significantly more, which allows fuel cars can refuel anywhere, anytime, two or three minutes to "full blood". And pure tram first to find a charging pile, even fast charging, it takes 40-60 minutes to charge to 80%, inefficient.

But these two advantages of traditional fuel cars, with the mass production and delivery of 4680 batteries, will be greatly reduced. First of all, the range is much higher compared to the average fuel car, and secondly, in terms of charging speed, the 4680 battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in just 15 minutes, which is 10 minutes faster than the current 2170 battery.

Of course, it is undeniable that for a long time in the future, electric cars still cannot completely replace fuel cars, but as the advantages of fuel cars continue to decay, electric cars will become the absolute mainstay and become the first choice for most consumers. The emergence of the 4680 battery has undoubtedly accelerated this process, with the iteration and constantly "forced" traditional car companies to transform.

The emergence of the 4680 battery, so that the two fists can not defeat the four hands into a two-fisted "counter hammer" four hands, and this is the power of technological breakthroughs.

Battery giants are competing for layout

Better performance, lower cost, faster charging, higher range, the impact of such 4680 battery on car companies is no longer in doubt. And in another perspective, 4680 will also rewrite the pattern of the battery industry.

At present, Tesla has been in the United States, California, Texas, Nevada and the four super factory in Berlin, Germany, self-production 4680 battery. According to Musk's previous plan, the annual production of 4680 batteries will reach 100GWh in 2022 and 3TWh in 2030.

Although Tesla has achieved large-scale in-house production of 4680 batteries and accelerated its own production line, but it is still difficult to meet Tesla's demand for batteries. Still need to cooperate with some external battery manufacturers. And from the perspective of the changes in the power battery market in recent years, the key to competition between manufacturers is in Tesla.

Take Panasonic, the former dominant power battery manufacturer, for example, which once occupied 40% of the global power battery market share before 2016 because of its deep cooperation with Tesla. But as Panasonic's position in Tesla's procurement matrix continued to decline, its market share was gradually eaten by CATL and LG New Energy, and eventually slipped to the third position.

So in the face of Tesla this big order, and Tesla for deep binding battery manufacturers have long begun to frantically grab the 4680 battery orders.

At present, the world's major power battery giants are scrambling to layout 4680 batteries. Including Tesla, Panasonic, LG New Energy, Samsung SDI, CATL and other battery manufacturers, have been involved in the development of 4680 cells, to speed up the follow-up 4680 battery layout.

And according to a Bloomberg report on March 19, CATL is planning to invest $5 billion to build a power lithium battery plant in North America, with a target annual capacity of up to 80GWh and employing nearly 10,000 people. CATL executives have flown to Mexico this month, according to people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada are also under consideration for the new plant site. Like Panasonic and other manufacturers going to the U.S. to build factories, CATL is also aiming to move its power battery production line closer to U.S. electric car makers like Tesla to get more orders.

Overseas battery makers are now competing fiercely for the 4680 battery segment.

One is the past dominant Panasonic, even if in recent years with Tesla some unpleasant, but Panasonic is introducing 2 production lines, plans to mass production of 4680 batteries in 2023. Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga also made it clear that: Tesla's demand for 4680 batteries is strong, the commercial launch of 4680 batteries is planned to move forward step by step, and its production of 4680 batteries will be supplied to Tesla as a priority.

In addition, LG New Energy is also developing 4680 batteries; Samsung SDI has also started trial production of the new generation of cylindrical batteries for vehicles, and once the product specifications are finalized, the company expects to produce the batteries in overseas factories.

With Tesla's 4680 battery production and large-scale installation, accelerating industrial change, leading the industry to upgrade at the same time, and Tesla this key "person" to maintain a long and stable and in-depth cooperation, will directly determine the status of manufacturers, and a new battery industry pattern will also come.

About Author
John Murphy

John Murphy is the founder of TOPCARS Tesla Aftermarket Accessories, as well as an investor in Tesla and owner of the Model Y. He posts about Tesla news while running the site on a daily basis.

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