Tesla is still king when it comes to battery power. No other automaker has come close to Tesla’s claimed range, even with the recent uptick in vehicles competing in the BEV segment. But today, Tesla is expected to make some crucial announcements about long-range EVs, battery production and more. The event, called Battery Day, will be held alongside Tesla’s annual shareholder’s meeting, and CEO Elon Musk says it “will be very insane.”
Above all things, Tesla wants to be an energy storage company, and improving its storage density has been the hallmark of the business’ success.
Tesla has been building electric cars since 2008 and in the years since, the automaker has greatly improved the reliability and efficiency of its products, all while pushing boundaries on things like over-the-air updates and semi-autonomous driving assistance technology. But the sculpted hunk of metal on wheels isn’t Tesla’s core product—it’s the packs full of battery cells tucked neatly under the vehicle’s floorboards.
Battery Day 2020 will be Tesla’s chance to prove to the world that it is still ahead of the game when it comes to batteries, despite regular automakers investing very heavily in the EV game.
While the secrets will remain under wraps until later this afternoon, we anticipate Tesla will introduce several concepts to the world which Musk has been hinting at over the past year. For starters, we may see Tesla boast about its fabled million-mile battery pack—the energy storage which will last an anticipated one million miles of charging and discharging before needing to be replaced. The goal is to make batteries cheaper, longer-lasting, easier to produce and less harmful to the environment.
Musk initially noted that Tesla was working on such technology back in 2019 and anticipated production tentatively kicking off in 2020.
We may also see a battery cell and a packaging redesign. Last week, a photo of an extremely large battery cell leaked online and was immediately picked up by several outlets as a potential Tesla prototype cell for its “Roadrunner” project. Musk commented on photos of the cell without confirming or denying its legitimacy, instead saying that battery day “will be very insane.”
It’s worth mentioning that Tesla has two recent acquisitions under its belt which it will more than likely be using to improve its battery and pack design. This includes battery production and packaging specialist Hibar, as well as cell producer and ultra-capacitor manufacturer, Maxwell Technologies.
Presently, it’s not clear if Maxwell’s tech will push Tesla towards solid-state batteries, or simply aid in developing significantly cheaper batteries using Maxwell’s dry electrode manufacturing process, though the latter is more likely given Tesla’s push for range and affordable, energy-dense cells.
There’s just one takeaway to keep in mind ahead of battery day’s announcements: none of what you see today will be hitting shelves anytime soon.
Musk noted in a Tweet on Monday that the products it unveils today will not go into volume production until at least next year, meaning that the announcement may be tied to the completion of the all-new Gigafactory Texas or Gigafactory Berlin. Regardless, it could also affect the ultimate release dates or technology found in the Cybertruck, next-generation Roadster, and Tesla Semi. And we still have yet to see any of those vehicles go to production, nor do we really know when they will.
If consumers are to be persuaded to trade in their gas-powered car for something they can plug into the wall, you better give them a good reason. Drivers don’t want to wait for their vehicles to charge—they need speed at the plug as if they were at the pump. And if batteries do take longer to charge than filling up their gasoline car, they don’t want a shorter range before having to top-off again.
For Tesla, creating an energy-dense vehicle is key to its success and something which has already brought the automaker so far while other brands have failed while trying to launch a battery-powered vehicle.
Battery day will be live-streamed on Tesla’s website this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. EST, 1:30 p.m. PST. Expect plenty of updates here when it happens.
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