Tesla Battery Day 2020 announcements could make EVs more mainstream sooner than expected

Tesla Battery Day is one of the most anticipated events in the EV world, and this year, the automaker has decided to hold it in conjunction with the annual shareholder meeting. This year was going to be all about the tech-related advancements from Tesla and not any new products per se, so there are a lot of hopes pinned on this event.

The company has been working on battery technology for quite some time now and nothing concrete is known yet. Musk’s tweets hinted that some major revelations could happen, but he made it clear it will all take time to touch “high-volume production”.

Now that D-Day has arrived, here’s what to expect from the event that will take place following the annual shareholder meeting in Palo Alto, California.

Tesla Jumping In To Help With The Battery Demand

Musk himself hyped the Battery Day a couple of weeks back when he mentioned that, “Many exciting things will be unveiled on Battery Day 9/22.”

The biggest announcement will, of course, have to do with the battery technology that Tesla has been working on.

It was speculated that once Tesla develops its own batteries, it will stop purchasing from its current vendors.

However, Musk tweeted that Tesla will increase the “battery cell purchase from Panasonic, LG & CATL (possibly other partners too).”

The growing demand from Tesla for batteries has led to production woes and constraints with all its vendors, and the company thinks it needed to step in to take matters into its own hands. Musk’s tweet also said, “we still foresee significant shortages in 2022 & beyond unless we also take action ourselves.”

Roadster, SEMI Not Coming Until 2022?

2020 Tesla Roadster
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620 miles of range per charge

Although Tesla builds its Gigafactories at an astonishing pace, it hasn’t been able to replicate the same with its products. It’s been quite some time since the Roadster and the SEMI were revealed. The former was supposed to debut this year, but Musk may have hinted that folks shouldn’t expect anything until 2022.

One of the tweets read, “Important note about Tesla Battery Day unveil tomorrow. This affects long-term production, especially Semi, Cybertruck & Roadster, but what we announce will not reach serious high-volume production until 2022.” It sure seems like an indirect announcement that these vehicles aren’t hitting the assembly line until 2022.

2019 Tesla Semi
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500-mile range towing 80,000 pounds

Tesla’s Million-Mile Battery

Tesla cars are built to last 1,000,000 miles, but the batteries don’t last that long.

Musk had previously said that battery modules last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles. However, Tesla offers a warranty of eight-year/150,000 miles on the Model S and Model X. In the past, there has been a lot of buzz about Tesla developing a new battery pack that lasts almost one million miles.

Tesla Updates Autopilot with "Mad Max" Mode for Assertive Overtaking
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Jeff Dahn, the battery researcher for Tesla, said that the new unit is a Li-Ion battery cell with a next-generation “single crystal” NMC cathode and a new advanced electrolyte. After testing these cells extensively, they think that the battery could power an electric car “for over 1.6 million kilometers or 1 million miles.”

In other terms, a battery can currently handle about 1,000 recharges, but with the million-mile battery, it could handle more than 4,000 recharges. For a cargo hauler like SEMI, this will prove to be a major selling point.

Cheaper Batteries?

Tesla filed several patents over the past months based on Jeff Dahn’s research. One of them was for “dioxazolones and nitrile sulfites as electrolyte additives for lithium-ion batteries.”

The automaker noted in its application that the substance could enable a better, longer-lasting, and cheaper battery for electric cars and home storage products. Logically, the million-mile battery would bring the per kWh rate down, but this could also be the one.

2017 Tesla Model S
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Currently, the per kWh battery cost is around $150. But, Tesla would be aiming to get it around $100, thus bringing down the sticker price of electric cars as well. Experts have noted that a price of around $100 per kWh would be necessary to bring it on par with the purchase cost of fuel-powered cars.

Monetize Your Tesla Cars By Selling Electricity From Your Batteries

2018 Tesla Model 3 High Resolution Exterior
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Tesla unveiled a product called Autobidder that allows its customers running home storage projects to sell energy back to the grid when not needed. One of the slides from Jeff Dahn’s presentation, said, “With the smart grid, the driver should be able to make their vehicle available to be charged or discharged when parked at home or at work up to set maximum and minimum charge points so that the next needed drive is possible. Vehicle owners should be paid for this by utilities. The future is very exciting.”

Apart from the future Robotaxi option, this could be another way to earn revenue from your Tesla car ownership. How about calling it Powerbank-on-Wheels?

Terafactories To Replace Gigafactories

Tesla Builds $5 Billion "Gigafactory" In Nevada Exterior
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Tesla’s production centers could be called Terafactories from now on. Like The Verge mentioned, if Giga refers to a billion, Tera equals a trillion. Tesla used to call them Gigafactories because they would produce Giga-Watt hours of battery capacity. The new moniker could suggest Tera-Watt hours of battery capacity, which is 20 times the current capacity of Panasonic’s production at Gigafactory Nevada.

This most likely has to do with the company Tesla acquired in 2018 called Maxwell Technologies in an all-stock deal for $218 million. Companies generally use wet electrode technology, but Maxwell’s breakthrough was to use dry electrode technology. In simple words, this eliminates the solvents in a battery cell through which electric current flows, helps boost performance, and is cost-effective. It also takes up less space, thus leading to more cell production, which in turn would make Gigafactory into a Terafactory.

Tesla Batteries For Flying Taxis?

Elon Musk Makes More Crazy Promises About the Tesla Roadster
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This is highly unlikely since Tesla has other important things on its plate at the moment, but knowing Musk, you can’t rule out this possibility. Earlier in August, Tesla’s battery research group in Canada released a paper that spoke about the next-gen battery cell with a breakthrough energy density. Led by Jeff Dahn of the Dalhousie University, the paper mentioned how anode-free lithium-metal battery cell offers a massive improvement over the present technology in terms of energy density. One comment in the paper read, “Such high energy density can increase the range of electric vehicles by approximately 280 km or even enable electrified urban aviation.”

“Urban Aviation” is a vague terminology and doesn’t necessarily mean electric aircraft. It could even mean electric flying taxis or eVOTL aircraft. eVOTL refers to electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft that will be used for air taxi services. Although eVOTL isn’t a very familiar term yet, there are many companies in the race to become the first air taxi carrier that could change the way urban commutes take place.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot more to expect, like cobalt-free batteries, faster charging facilities and tech to counter Lucid’s assault, and so on. The Tesla Battery Day event will commence after the Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will start at 1:30 pm Pacific Time. It can be streamed live on Tesla’s website.

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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