Lucid CEO: Tesla’s 4680 Batteries Aren’t A Huge Breakthrough

Electric Cars

Tesla bets on a new 4680-type cylindrical cell format, but according to Lucid’s CEO/CTO Peter Rawlinson. it will not be “this huge breakthrough.”

In an interesting IEEE Spectrum article, Peter Rawlinson noted that the larger format and new design has some advantages, including reduced internal resistance and higher volumetric energy density, but it’s better packaging rather than a breakthrough chemistry:

“…But even that 4680 appears a triumph of packaging, not of chemistry, with its tightly packed “jelly rolls” that allow more active cell material versus its surrounding casing.”

“”I do think there’s an upside to going to large format.” he says. “That would reduce internal resistance, and that’s a valuable step forward. But people are looking at 4680 as this huge breakthrough, and that’s a fantasy.””

Well, that’s a new opinion from a company that is using 2170-type cylindrical cells (found also in Tesla Model 3/Model Y or Rivian’s EVs).

However, according to Tesla, the 4680-type and structural battery pack will allow it to increase capacity/range by 30% (16% from cell design and 14% from vehicle integration) without a new chemistry.

Simultaneously, Tesla’s shingle spiral approach and a streamlined production process also might push the entire industry forward. The associated reduction in cost would bring a very important change. We are talking about thousands of dollars per car.

If a new battery chemistry was applied, it could be very big combined improvement – maybe to the point that it would be enough to make gas/diesel cars completely hopeless.

Anyway, only time will tell how the switch to 4680 will pay off.

Peter Rawlinson recently said that robotaxis are some 10 years off, since making fully autonomous vehicles is very complex. And this is something that we agree with.

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