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New 2021 Model S battery cells & packs

MarcG

Active Member
Oct 29, 2014
2,983
1,826
San Francisco
Since most other threads on the “new” Model S refresh (as of early 2021) are busy discussing the most obvious changes to the interior, I thought the advancements to the battery cells and pack architecture deserved a separate thread of its own.


What we know for sure:

1. Per the shareholder deck posted on Tesla’s investor relations site, the “both the battery pack and modules have now been fully redesigned” (see page 9)

2. During the earnings call conducted on January 27th 2021, Elon mentioned that “the new S currently uses the 18650 form factor, they're just a more advanced cell” while answering analyst Alex Potter of Piper Sandler.

3. The Model S product page on Tesla’s site mentions “new module and pack thermal architecture allows faster changing and gives you more power and endurance in all conditions”, and that “both Long Range and Plaid powertrains, with update battery architecture, are capable of back-to-back, consistent 1/4 mile runs”.


What we think is most likely the case:

The existing 18650 format only applies to the Long Range and Plaid variants, while the Plaid+ that was announced at the end of the Battery Day presentation on September 22nd 2020 will use the new 4680 format cells, which provide even more power and more range.


What we don’t know for sure yet:

1. Total and usable capacity of the new packs; the Long Range gained about 10 EPA rate miles over the previous version, but with the new models including a heat pump, the more efficient motors from Model 3/Y, and a decently lower drag coefficient, shouldn’t the gain in range be higher assuming the pack didn’t change in capacity? Could it be that the new pack has less capacity, especially given the ~250 lbs weight loss between old & new Long Range models?

2. Supercharging taper curve; after what SoC does the 250kW peak start to drop off, and how fast? From the Model S product page, Tesla mentions 200 miles gained in 15 minutes, which is just under half the capacity given the 412-mile range. So perhaps ~45 kWh in 15 minutes, which is 180 kW average power for that duration?

3. Is the new Model S pack structural, as presented on Battery Day? If so, are the cells grouped closer together and to the center of the car, allowing for better handling?

Discuss, please!

PS: Elon mentioned he would do a separate presentation on the new aspects of the refresh, but I haven’t read anywhere when that will be. If you know, please share!
 

thebishop

Member
Dec 14, 2014
231
203
Sweden
1. I believe the new pack has lower capacity - 90-95kWh
2. super interesting to understand, less taper would be awesome - looking forward to see real-world charger curves 0-80%
3. it definitely would make sense, if they completely redesigned it - I view structural packs according to their analogy of airplane fuels tanks - a matter of removing duplicate material not adding anything - together with slightly lower count of battery cells (according to 1), this could well be a major reason for weight savings.
 

Giampigua

Member
Aug 27, 2020
8
3
Italy
My hope (not my guess:))

given that it appears to be unreasonable that they have different chassis for plaid + and MS LR, and considering that they stated that the new MS LR has also a new structural battery pack, is it possible that they temporarily fit the old 18650 format in the new structural pack?

Maybe the old format is not optimal for the new pack and therefore is not fully exploited: this would explain why the weight is reduced but the range is not increased as expected.

This way they have the new chassis for all models and once 4680 production scales up they can just put in the new battery format.
 

BigNick

Disaffected Member
Dec 3, 2017
1,088
1,316
Pennsylvania, USA
When someone gets TM-Spy or ScanMyT3sla running on a refreshed S or X we'll know the answer to #1, and I'm sure there will be YT videos regarding #2.
#3 will be trickier, as it's kind of costly to rip open a pack. We'll have to wait until someone totals one and it gets bought for salvage.
 

1965Cobra427

Supporting Member
Nov 24, 2020
68
106
Wally World
OP: I think you are right on. I posted something along these lines last Sunday. Seems even more likely to me after seeing the Model S megacasting photos from Fremont and watching the Elon/Munroe interview. Didn't get a lot of love on the forum, but I still think it's a pretty good guess.

Plaid refresh battery size / type?

My car was ordered in early December so I'm hoping to see for myself soon!
 

MikeBur

ManualPilot
Dec 8, 2014
1,372
721
Seattle, WA
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GoBlue88

Member
Apr 1, 2014
852
262
Carlsbad, CA
Anyone think they'll switch the LR to the 4680 cells in 2022? I'm getting close to an upgrade (I've been driving my 2014 for 7 years now). Would LOVE a 500-mile range LR. Acceleration is fast enough, don't need to spend the extra cash for Plaid+.
 

MarcG

Active Member
Oct 29, 2014
2,983
1,826
San Francisco
Anyone think they'll switch the LR to the 4680 cells in 2022? I'm getting close to an upgrade (I've been driving my 2014 for 7 years now). Would LOVE a 500-mile range LR. Acceleration is fast enough, don't need to spend the extra cash for Plaid+.

No, Elon specifically said they’ll be using 18650 cells for years to come.
 

Hayseed_MS

Member
Jan 19, 2021
704
1,612
Midwest
My guess is that they will find that the new LR batteries will have more range than expected and/or software upgrade to give more range. 420 is long range but not Long Range
 

byeLT4

Member
Feb 16, 2017
697
641
Texas
@GoBlue88 I think we could see it. Depends a little on competition and a lot on how the 4680 ramp goes. Elon could play it off like the ramp up came sooner than expected. I don't think he'd outright say that the new cells are going in next year because that would hurt sales this year. Like so many things that we want answers to right now, only time will tell.
 

MarcG

Active Member
Oct 29, 2014
2,983
1,826
San Francisco
@GoBlue88 I think we could see it. Depends a little on competition and a lot on how the 4680 ramp goes. Elon could play it off like the ramp up came sooner than expected. I don't think he'd outright say that the new cells are going in next year because that would hurt sales this year. Like so many things that we want answers to right now, only time will tell.

With the Semi way behind schedule and dependent on 4680 cells, I would be very surprised if all Model S & X move from 18650 to 4680 before 2023. I believe CyberTruck and Roadster will also use 4680. That’s a lot of demand for a product that is stills about a year away from volume production.
 

ICUDoc

Active Member
May 19, 2015
1,656
1,023
Sydney NSW
I think it's very unlikely that any Model S with 18650s will have a structural battery pack.
The 4680s were designed for this, 18650s weren't.
This doesn't mean there are two different chassis- just two different packs: an 18650 pack with lots of additional support structures, and a 4680 pack wherein the support structure is mostly cells.
The hard points for connecting to the chassis would be identical between the two packs.
This would explain the 18650 pack not having lots more cells, but the 4680 would...
Maybe 18650 packs have better chemistry but fewer cells in a "non-structural" pack (lighter) so a bit more range, faster charge
Maybe the 4680s have more cells in a structural pack (similar to old pack weight) so massively more powerful / longer range as most of that weight is now cells...)
Only my thoughts, no special information source. Looking forward to finding out.
 

thebishop

Member
Dec 14, 2014
231
203
Sweden
I think it's very unlikely that any Model S with 18650s will have a structural battery pack.
The 4680s were designed for this, 18650s weren't.
This doesn't mean there are two different chassis- just two different packs: an 18650 pack with lots of additional support structures, and a 4680 pack wherein the support structure is mostly cells.
The hard points for connecting to the chassis would be identical between the two packs.
This would explain the 18650 pack not having lots more cells, but the 4680 would...
Maybe 18650 packs have better chemistry but fewer cells in a "non-structural" pack (lighter) so a bit more range, faster charge
Maybe the 4680s have more cells in a structural pack (similar to old pack weight) so massively more powerful / longer range as most of that weight is now cells...)
Only my thoughts, no special information source. Looking forward to finding out.

concur with that hypothesis - would fit current announced info at least!
 

byeLT4

Member
Feb 16, 2017
697
641
Texas
With the Semi way behind schedule and dependent on 4680 cells, I would be very surprised if all Model S & X move from 18650 to 4680 before 2023. I believe CyberTruck and Roadster will also use 4680. That’s a lot of demand for a product that is stills about a year away from volume production.

I do keep forgetting about the Cybertruck (needing 4680s). Maybe they'll do a similar design where the shorter range variants use 18650s? With the progress on the Austin factory I can't wait to see exactly when Semi production starts along with everything else. Aren't the Ys produced there going to 4680s as well? I thought I remember reading that somewhere.
 

MarcG

Active Member
Oct 29, 2014
2,983
1,826
San Francisco
I do keep forgetting about the Cybertruck (needing 4680s). Maybe they'll do a similar design where the shorter range variants use 18650s? With the progress on the Austin factory I can't wait to see exactly when Semi production starts along with everything else. Aren't the Ys produced there going to 4680s as well? I thought I remember reading that somewhere.

You might be conflating factories/cell production/models together. I believe the Model Y destined for Europe (where it’s not sold yet) will be produced in Berlin, with both front and rear end single-piece castings.

Separately, the 4680 cells will also be produced in Berlin (besides California).

But I don’t see the Model Y changing cell format from 2170 to 4680 anytime soon. Maybe in a few years.

For now, 4680 cells are planned for Semi, CyberTruck, Roadster, and Model S Plaid+. Which are a lot of vehicles as it is.

Other Model S variants and all Model X will continue to use 18650 cell for a while (i.e. years).
Model 3 and Model Y will use 2170 cells for a while (i.e. years).

Once production of 4680 cells is ramped to a large volume, including non-Tesla manufacturing (e.g. CATL, LG, Panasonic) AND all new vehicle programs are well underway and selling at desired volumes, maybe Tesla will consider switching all other vehicles to 4680 cells.
 
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Uncle Paul

Well-Known Member
Nov 1, 2013
6,256
6,781
Canyon Lake,CA
Imagine that changing S/X over to large body castings will happen long before they will adapt to the structural batteies.

First introduce a large rear casting, then a large front casting, then tie them together with a structural battery. Timeline might work out well for them to gradually introduce the newer battery cell sizes/technology.

Perhaps come to the Plaid+ version first and then trickle down to base models.
 

GoBlue88

Member
Apr 1, 2014
852
262
Carlsbad, CA
@GoBlue88 I think we could see it. Depends a little on competition and a lot on how the 4680 ramp goes. Elon could play it off like the ramp up came sooner than expected. I don't think he'd outright say that the new cells are going in next year because that would hurt sales this year. Like so many things that we want answers to right now, only time will tell.
Yeah, that would line up with Tesla history. I'll probably go 8 years for sure and look to upgrade in the Spring/Summer of 2022.
 
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Eriamjh1138

Member
May 31, 2017
452
523
Michigan
I spotted this in a YouTube channel that featured a Sandy Munro presentation about battery technology. Sandy said this picture came to him “somehow”. Could this be a prototype model S Plaid battery pack of 4680s?
Charged Electric Vehicles Magazine YouTube Link go to 7:35 ish.
 

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