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Tesla Battery Day: news and updates from Elon Musk’s announcement

Tesla’s “Battery Day” event, held on September 22nd, 2020, was a showcase for Elon Musk to show off his company’s latest battery improvements.

Tesla unveiled plans to develop a “million mile” battery that could last an electric car’s entire lifetime on the road. It also outlined plans to dramatically reduce the cost of its battery cells and packs to $100 per kilowatt-hour, at which point experts believe electric cars will become comparable in price to combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla is already the industry leader when it comes to squeezing range out of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, but its ability to continue to innovate on its battery technology helps explain why the company’s stock prices have soared in recent months.

  • Justine Calma

    Sep 23, 2020

    Justine Calma

    Tesla promises cars that connect to the grid, even if Elon Musk doesn’t really want them to

    Presentation of new Tesla fast charging stations
    Tesla cars are located next to a new Tesla charging station of the latest generation on the Euref Campus Berlin. 
    Photo by Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Tesla plans for its future electric vehicles to be able to both suck up power and spit it back out into the grid. Tesla didn’t specify when this capability would be available when CEO Elon Musk made the announcement during Tesla’s much-anticipated Battery Day event in Palo Alto, California. 

    But instead of hyping up this development, Musk downplayed how useful it would be for the company’s vehicles to be able to connect to the grid. “Vehicle-to-grid sounds good, but I think actually has a much lower utility than people think,” Musk said. He ostensibly wants consumers to continue buying Tesla’s Powerwall batteries for their homes, rather than using its EVs as batteries on wheels. “I think it’s actually going to be better for people’s freedom of action to have a Powerwall and a car,” said Musk. A lack of infrastructure and customer buy-in for cars that can offload unused energy to the grid could also be giving Tesla pause.

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  • Kim Lyons

    Sep 23, 2020

    Kim Lyons

    Here are Tesla’s biggest announcements from Battery Day

    At Tesla’s Battery Day event, CEO Elon Musk made some big announcements: the company’s moves toward eliminating cobalt in its batteries, a new Plaid powertrain for the Model S that could get to speeds of 200 mph, and a new cathode plant to streamline its battery production. And, with the new battery technology, Musk has said Tesla will make a $25,000 car.

    The socially-distanced outdoor event had Musk and other presenters addressing Tesla shareholders in parked cars, who honked their horns to indicate their approval of the speakers’ remarks— almost like a drive-in movie/shareholders meeting.

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  • Justine Calma

    Sep 22, 2020

    Justine Calma

    Tesla to make EV battery cathodes without cobalt

    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Tesla will make electric vehicle batteries with cobalt-free cathodes, it announced during its Battery Day event today. The announcement came as part of the company’s move to make batteries in-house instead of purchasing them. Musk didn’t give a timeline for going to a zero-cobalt battery.

    Cobalt is the most expensive material used in batteries, so eliminating it from the mix was expected help to electric vehicles become as affordable as those that run on gas. Tesla now says it can make a $25,000 electric vehicle — $10,000 less than its cheapest model — because of the improvements it’s made to its batteries, including axing cobalt.

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  • Kim Lyons

    Sep 22, 2020

    Kim Lyons

    Tesla reveals its Plaid powertrain will be available for delivery in 2021

    Photo by Tamara Warren / The Verge

    As part of its Battery Day presentation, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed off video of the new “Plaid” version of its Model S sedan, a step up from its “Ludicrous” model. According to the specs on Tesla’s website, the long-awaited Plaid powertrain will have a range between charges of 520 miles, get from zero-to-60 in under two seconds, and a top speed of 200mph. The price is listed on Tesla’s website at $139,990.

    Musk has been teasing the Plaid for a while, and showed a video last year of a Tesla with the Plaid powertrain, noting it would “cost more than our current offerings.” (The name is apparently a reference from the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs.) The Plaid Model S debuted last September at the Laguna Seca raceway, where it ran the course in 1 minute and 36 seconds, seen in this video:

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  • Andrew J. Hawkins

    Sep 22, 2020

    Andrew J. Hawkins

    Tesla’s Elon Musk said a $25,000 electric car with next-gen battery in the works

    Tesla announced that it will dramatically reduce the cost of its battery cells and packs — which means the company’s new goal is a $25,000 electric car. The company’s CEO Elon Musk said its new “tabless” battery cells, as well as by changing the materials inside the cell, will allow Tesla to “halve” the price per kilowatt-hour, which will make electric cars roughly the same price as combustion engine ones.

    The price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the unit of energy most commonly used to measure the capacity of the battery packs in modern electric vehicles. Those prices have been falling dramatically over the last decade, from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019, a drop of 87 percent.

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  • Kim Lyons

    Sep 22, 2020

    Kim Lyons

    Tesla announces it will build a new cathode plant

    Illustration featuring the Tesla wordmark logo
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Tesla plans to build in a new cathode plant for its batteries in North America, to help reduce supply chain costs and simplify cathode production, CEO Elon Musk said today at the company’s battery event.

    The current process is not efficient, Musk said, and it’s making improvements to the process that will make cathodes 76 percent cheaper, and produce zero wastewater. The new process will eliminate many of the intermediate steps involved in cathode production, and it plans to diversify the cathodes it uses, because of low nickel supply.

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  • Andrew J. Hawkins

    Sep 22, 2020

    Andrew J. Hawkins

    Tesla announces ‘tabless’ battery cells that will improve range of its electric cars

    Tesla unveiled plans Tuesday to develop a “tabless” battery that could improve an electric car’s range and power. The company will produce its new batteries in-house, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts will help dramatically reduce costs and allow the company to eventually sell electric vehicles for the same price as gasoline-powered ones.

    The battery is expected to lower Tesla’s cost per kilowatt-hour, the unit of energy most commonly used to measure the capacity of the battery packs in modern electric vehicles. Many experts believe that lowering these costs would allow Tesla to dramatically lower the price of its cars, thereby making them far more accessible. The news of the new battery was announced during the company’s much-hyped “Battery Day” event in Palo Alto, California.

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  • Andrew J. Hawkins

    Sep 22, 2020

    Andrew J. Hawkins

    How to watch Tesla’s Battery Day event

    It’s Tesla’s Battery Day, and unless you’re one of the precious few who scored tickets to the event, you’re probably going to be tuning in to the live stream like the rest of us. And honestly, isn’t this really the safest way to watch the big event?

    Tesla’s battery presentation is expected to commence immediately after the company’s annual shareholder meeting. The two events were originally planned for separate days but were consolidated and rescheduled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Jon Porter

    Sep 22, 2020

    Jon Porter

    Elon Musk warns new Tesla battery tech won’t reach mass production until 2022

    Illustration featuring the Tesla wordmark logo
    Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

    Whatever is unveiled during Tesla’s Battery Day event on Tuesday won’t enter “serious high-volume production” until 2022, the company’s CEO Elon Musk has cautioned on Twitter. The time-scale means the technology will mainly impact Tesla’s Semi, Cybertruck, and Roadster projects, the CEO said, adding that the company will continue to buy third-party battery cells even if Tesla decides to make its own.

    Musk’s comments suggest that any new battery tech shown at Tuesday’s event will be at the prototype stage, ruling out its imminent use in Tesla’s current mass-market vehicles like the Model 3 or Model Y. Musk points towards the “extreme difficulty” in scaling new technology as being to blame, noting that making “the machine that makes the machine is vastly harder than the machine itself.”

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  • Andrew J. Hawkins

    Sep 21, 2020

    Andrew J. Hawkins

    What to expect at Tesla’s Battery Day event

    Tesla’s Battery Day is upon us. The September 22nd event in Palo Alto, California, “will blow your mind,” CEO Elon Musk promised in a recent earnings call. “It blows my mind, and I know it!” Musk also hinted that we should expect “many exciting things” at the event.

    What sort of things? Musk has left a trail of breadcrumbs over the years in the form of tweets, public comments, patents, and research papers published by his team of battery scientists, hinting at what kinds of battery breakthroughs Tesla may unveil.

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