Musk made a high-profile announcement 3 years ago, why Tesla’s model worth more than 100,000 yuan has not yet arrived – IT Home

According to news on September 19, three years ago this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted a striking outdoor event that he called “Battery Day.” Musk has mentioned several times before that he plans to launch an affordable, mass-market electric car, and he finally explained his plans to Tesla fans at Battery Day to get there. For more than two hours, Musk reimagined the manufacturing process of electric vehicle batteries, introducing new methods including nickel and lithium mining and processing, electrode manufacturing, battery design and stacking. He said that by around 2023, these new methods will halve the cost of batteries, allowing Tesla to produce electric cars that sell for as little as $25,000.

Today, Tesla’s “Battery Day” has become an important moment in the industry, with Musk warning competitors that they must significantly reduce costs or risk losing the electric car race. Volkswagen and BMW have pledged to reduce battery costs by 50%, and General Motors has pledged to cut battery costs by about 40%. Many companies have followed suit with what Musk described as the super-sized 4680 battery, which is about twice the size of a traditional cylindrical electric car battery, with a diameter of 46 millimeters (1.8 inches) and a length of 80 millimeters (3.1 inches). Other companies are trying to improve production methods such as dry cell electrodes (DBE) to replace expensive traditional electrode manufacturing equipment.

However,The $25,000 Tesla (called the Model 2 by analysts) hasn’t been unveiled yet, and it doesn’t look like it may be coming anytime soon. The key to lowering the price of electric vehicles is the battery, which can account for 40% of the total cost of a vehicle. Tesla has begun small-volume production of 4680 batteries. The batteries produced by the company at its giant factories in Fremont, California, and Austin, Texas, are enough to support the assembly of about 75,000 Model Y vehicles per year, but they are less than the 75% Tesla will sell in 2022. Compared to 10,000 Model Ys, this is just a small part. Early 4680 batteries don’t appear to have many of the changes Musk described at Battery Day. For example, their cathodes do not use dry cell electrodes and their anodes do not contain silicon, according to multiple independent teardowns of the cells.

In fact, biographer Walter Isaacson revealed in the recently published “The Biography of Elon Musk” thatMusk himself has cooled off the idea of ​​a low-cost Tesla as the centerpiece of Battery Day. Isaacson wrote that Tesla’s chief designer Franz von Holzhausen repeatedly submitted designs for the $25,000 self-driving car to Musk, but was rejected. Musk vetoed it, appearing to prefer developing a more expensive self-driving taxi. Musk believes that car owners can rent out their vehicles when they are not using them and earn high fees to defray the cost of purchasing the car. But von Holzhausen supported the development of the Model 2, and he has been quietly developing the model in his design studio. It was not until September 2022 that Musk finally approved the development of this car. The book doesn’t say when Tesla will launch the Model 2, but it could be years away. Musk has released a concept version of the electric pickup truck CyberTruck in 2019, but mass production may have to wait until next year.

It can be said that in terms of creating a mass electric vehicle market,A $25,000 Tesla isn’t as important as it once was. Chinese electric car companies BYD, SAIC MG and Jikry are producing a variety of high-quality models with prices ranging from US$16,000 to US$26,000. Volkswagen said it is developing an electric car that will cost $20,000 to $30,000 and is expected to be on the market before 2030. But there is no evidence that Chinese cars will be sold on a large scale in the West, and Volkswagen’s electric car sales are not outstanding.

Therefore, Musk’s plan remains very important. Like Apple, the Tesla brand enjoys a high reputation: Judging from the popularity of the Model Y, the launch of family-priced Tesla cars may help promote large-scale sales of electric vehicles. No other automaker outside of China has the same chance of making such a splash in the mass market.

Vision of “Battery Day”

Since Tesla was founded in the early 2000s, Musk has talked about his dream of building cheap electric cars. In Tesla’s “Master Plan” in 2006, Musk stated that Tesla’s main goal was to usher in an era of low-priced home electric vehicles and eliminate fossil fuel vehicles. He plans to start by building expensive electric cars, such as the $100,000 Tesla Roadster, and then gradually reduce costs with subsequent models. Today, subsidies provided by the U.S. government can reduce the price of the basic Model 3 to about $30,000. But Model 2 should be cheaper, with subsidies likely to cost less than $20,000.

On “Battery Day”, Musk once again raised expectations for this electric car. He said that Tesla will produce a $25,000 electric car within three years, and the key to achieving this goal is the battery and the metal used. “To do that, we’re putting more effort into battery manufacturing, trying to revolutionize everything from mining to making complete battery packs,” Musk said at the time. “We’re not in the battery business for fun, but because it becomes a part of our rapid growth.” constraints and bottlenecks.”

However, a closer look at Musk’s rhetoric over the past seven years shows that he has sometimes wavered on the issue of cheap cars. In the 2016 update of the master plan, Musk did not mention any topic of home electric cars, but publicly stated for the first time that “almost everyone” could afford personally owned self-driving taxis. Five months ago, when he released his third master plan, he didn’t talk about affordable cars at all. His ambivalence appears to stem from his enthusiasm for self-driving cars. On “Battery Day”, Musk even promised to provide hands-free driving capabilities for Model 2. Apparently the greater benefits of producing self-driving taxis may have swayed him.

Isaacson reveals in the book that during a conference call in the summer of 2022, Musk told von Holzhausen and other Tesla executives that self-driving taxis would “change everything.” “This product will Make Tesla a $10 trillion company and people will still be talking about this moment a hundred years from now.” Von Holzhausen and Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of automotive engineering, tried repeatedly to convince Musk to build both the $25,000 car and the self-driving taxis, but failed. can succeed.

Finally, in September 2022, von Holzhausen and Morave made an economic case for launching Model 2. Isaacson wrote in the book that Musk has publicly predicted on many occasions that Tesla’s annual growth rate will reach about 50% by 2020, when annual vehicle sales may reach 20 million vehicles. But Musk’s two deputies believe that to achieve this goal, Tesla’s product line must include a small, cheap car that could sell twice as much as midsize sedans and SUVs such as the Model 3 and Model Y. It could take years for self-driving taxis to win regulatory approval, so it makes more sense to build small $25,000 cars in the meantime. The company could produce both models on the same assembly line.

According to Isaacson’s description, Musk finally approved von Holzhausen’s plan seven months ago, in February of this year. Von Holzhausen showed Musk self-driving taxis and Model 2 models. Both vehicles look like the CyberTruck, with sharp edges and a Blade Runner vibe. Isaacson quoted Musk as saying: “When one of these cars comes around the corner, people think they’re seeing something from the future.”

details make a difference

Outside of Tesla, other companies are seeing the benefits of the larger 4680 cells, which reduce the number of cells needed for a 100-kilowatt-hour pack from 4,416 to 960. It is reported that companies such as Japan’s Panasonic, South Korea’s Samsung and LG Energy Solutions, and China’s CATL are vying to adopt this new type of battery.

Additionally, the 4680 battery has much more potential. Tesla replaced traditional battery cells with another method, introducing a heat removal system they call “poleless ears.” Adding silicon to the anode greatly improves the cruising range. Like 4680, many companies are beginning to work on solving the DBE problem, including silicon anode startup OneD Battery Sciences in Palo Alto, California, Massachusetts startup AM Batteries, and Germany’s Saueressig Group.

However, mastering all these innovations has proven difficult: Tesla and other companies have successfully used DBE for battery anodes, because the graphite material used in most anodes is usually smooth and when compressed with calendering rollers, it It will become flat. But these companies have had trouble rolling nickel, manganese and cobalt particles in cathodes because they don’t flatten or adhere easily to aluminum current collectors. Tesla 4680 cells do not have silicon introduced into the cathode, according to a battery teardown organized last year by Jordan Giesige, host of the podcast “The Limiting Factor.” Rob Anstey, CEO of silicon anode manufacturer Graphenix Development, said silicon is hard and sharp and can scratch and cut current collectors and calendering rollers. Matt Tyler, director of dry electrode development at Tesla, did not respond to a request for comment.

“There’s a huge gap between something conceptually cool and the final product,” said Alex Yu, chief technology officer of Factorial Energy, a Massachusetts-based lithium metal battery developer. “You might be able to come up with something that’s cool in concept and the final product.” Lots of new ideas, but everything takes time to validate. It takes years to go from R&D to small samples to real products that are cost-effective and high-quality.”

Battery Day resonates because it’s a high-profile coming-out party for companies that have been trying to make commercial electric vehicle batteries for more than a decade. Now, Musk is pushing them to innovate and bring electric vehicles to the mainstream. No one dares to underestimate the challenge, but with so many companies following Musk’s lead, it may mean that only he can lead them to their goals.

Advertising statement: The external jump links (including but not limited to hyperlinks, QR codes, passwords, etc.) contained in the article are used to convey more information and save selection time. The results are for reference only. All IT House articles include this statement.