While many startups and established battery manufacturers are working on revolutionary cell technology that would radically improve electric vehicle range while slashing costs, Tesla and partner Panasonic are pushing forward with an evolutionary step that could make significant improvements almost immediately.
Tesla's new 4680 battery format follows company tradition of using cylindrical cells from mass-market manufacturers such as Panasonic. But the 4680 is different because it has more than five times the volume of the so-called 2170 cell used in most Teslas, as well as structural changes to improve cost per kilowatt-hour.
The 4680 name comes from its size. The cell is 46 millimeters wide by 80 millimeters tall, with six times the power compared with 2170 cells, Tesla said. When put in a battery pack, that will enable a 16 percent range gain.