Elon Musk warns the new technology announced today is still two years away
Tesla is holding a major announcement today, September 22, right after its 2020 annual shareholder meeting.
Dubbed 'Battery Day', the event was due to take place earlier in 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing rules still in place mean the event will be live-streamed online, due to only a limited number of in-person tickets being available.
The shareholder meeting will begin at 10:30am ET / 1:30pm PT, with the Battery Day event following straight after. It isn't clear at this point how long either will last. However, both will be broadcast live to the general public on this page of Tesla's website.
What to expect from Tesla Battery Day event
As if often the case ahead of a Tesla announcement, little is known for sure at this stage. However, we can be almost certain that no new vehicles will be revealed today, and new chargers or other consumer-facing hardware are unlikely too.
Instead, today will be all about battery technology and likely the chemistry that goes into making battery cells more efficient. It was first thought that Tesla would announce plans to shift away from its suppliers Panasonic and LG, to instead begin mass-producing its own battery cells, with greater efficiency.
But Musk tweeted hours before the event to say this is not the case. The Tesla boss said: "Important note about Tesla Battery Day...This affects long-term production, especially Semi, Cybertruck & Roadster, but what we announce today will not reach serious high-volume production until 2022."
Musk went on to say: "We intend to increase, not reduce battery cell purchases from Panasonic, LG & CATL (possibly other partners too). However, even with our cell suppliers going at maximum speed, we still foresee significant shortages in 2022 & beyond unless we also take action ourselves."
We intend to increase, not reduce battery cell purchases from Panasonic, LG & CATL (possibly other partners too). However, even with our cell suppliers going at maximum speed, we still foresee significant shortages in 2022 & beyond unless we also take action ourselves.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 21, 2020
Nine hours later, Musk continued this train of thought to explain the difficulties of production. "The extreme difficulty of scaling production of new technology is not well understood. It's 1000% to 10,000% harder than making a few prototypes. The machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself."
Tesla fans will be familiar with this, given the delays most of the company's new vehicles have endured over the years, as the company battles with production snags and quality control.
Battery efficiency comes in two forms. First there is the amount of energy each cell can hold, which has a direct affect on the range a car can drive each time it is fully charged. The other form of efficiency relates to the lifetime of the battery, which Tesla is expected to soon claim to be a million miles. In other words, the battery packs of its future cars should still hold a usable amount of charge after they have been used for a million miles or more.
It was reported in May that Tesla supplier CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd) was ready to go with million-mile battery packs, but didn't directly say that they would be used by Tesla. More specifically, they suggested a lifetime of 1.24 million miles.
We are also keen to see if Tesla has planes to create battery cells that no longer rely on cobalt. Musk said in 2018 that future Tesla vehicles would reduce cobalt's presence in batteries from three present to zero. Lastly, we wonder if Tesla will today announce further plans for its utility battery and solar panel roof tiles businesses, and if it has plans to begin selling battery packs to other automakers.
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