Tesla late on Tuesday hosted a Battery Day event in Palo Alto, California, where CEO Elon Musk laid out many of the company's future plans.
In the near term is the introduction of the new Model S Plaid which will cost $141,070 and can already be ordered on Tesla's website. It's due in late 2021 with over 1,100 horsepower, a range of more than 520 miles, a top speed of 200 mph, and 0-60 and quarter-mile times in less than 2.0 and 9.0 seconds respectively. Those figures are all superior to those promised by Lucid for its range-topping Air Dream Edition.
Looking further outward, Tesla will completely redesign its battery cells and take over some production duty from current supplier Panasonic whose shortage of cells in the past have slowed production at Tesla. Tesla's new cell design, referred to as “4680” cells, promises five times the energy, six times the power and 16% more range than the current design Tesla uses.
The gains are made possible by a slight increase in size of the cell and removing the tab, the small section that normally sticks out of the cell to form a connection with the rest of a network. The new battery cell is also cheaper to produce, with Tesla claiming a 14% reduction in the dollar-per-kilowatt cost compared to the previous cell design.
Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains
With further improvements in the production process coupled with new chemistry, including eliminating the use of expensive cobalt for the cathode, Tesla predicts it will be able to drop the price of its cells much further, to the point that Tesla would be able to sell a car priced as low as $25,000, which is almost $13,000 less than its most affordable model sold today.
“It’s absolutely critical that we make cars that people can actually afford,” Musk said. “Affordability is key to how we scale.”
Tesla first mentioned plans for a $25,000 car in 2018, stating at the time that it would be available in about three years. However speaking at the Battery Day event, Musk said the $25,000 car is likely three years away still. He said it will take 12-18 months to start realizing the advantages of the new battery technology and close to three years to fully realize them.
Finally, Tesla said future battery packs will also form part of the vehicle structure, similar to modern aircraft whose fuel tanks form part of the wing structure. This will enable Tesla to pack more batteries into the vehicle without increasing weight. It will also help to increase the stiffness of vehicles, Musk said.