The Model Y from the Gigafactory under construction in Grünheide near Berlin will probably look like those that have been coming from the main plant in Fremont since March 2020 and, more recently, from the Tesla factory in China, but will be very different inside: That announced CEO Elon Musk after the Battery Day in September 2020, where he presented new battery cells in XL format and a completely new design for the electric cars around them. The German Model Y will be created with this technology, said Musk – and now a first photo has appeared that could show its battery part – and it seems to offer space for cells with a total of 125 kilowatt hours.
Space for 920 Tesla cells in the bottom
The blurry, so presumably secretly taken photo from an unnamed source was published this week by the US blog Electrek, which had already shown a first 4680 cell before the battery day. As CEO Musk explained at the event, the frame of future Teslas will only be composed of three large elements: front and back a cast part from giant Giga presses, in between the battery element with the thick cells, which together with the base and Lids form a load-bearing part of the structure (see photo above). This sandwich structure in the floor is extremely stable and saves weight, as is the case with aircraft, whose tanks are now integrated into their wings.
It is precisely this load-bearing battery element (probably as a prototype) in an elongated rectangular shape that the photo published by Electrek is supposed to show. The cells cannot be seen on it, but recesses into which hundreds of them could be inserted. Twitter users counted how many there are and came to 920 pieces. This roughly corresponds to calculations by Tesla expert Sandy Munro based on the data given by Tesla for the 4680 cells and the current 2170 format.
Munro calculated 960 cells on the area of the current battery pack for Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, a little more than can be seen in the Electrek photo. According to his assumptions, this would have meant space for 130 kilowatt hours of battery capacity in the floor of the two electric cars, or the current capacity of 74 kilowatt hours in 40 percent less space. With the corrected number of cells, there is still a capacity of 125 kilowatt hours with full utilization of the available space.
With such a large battery, the WLTP range for the Model Y, which Tesla currently specifies as 505 kilometers, could be an almost unreached 800 kilometers, even if one assumes a higher weight. Alternatively, Tesla could stay with the previous capacity and create even more space for passengers and luggage.
For Model Y or Model S plaid?
However, it has not yet been decided whether the German Model Y will actually roll out of the Gigafactory in Grünheide with 4680 cells and the new structure from the start. Musk has said that the electric cars from there will use both, but not that they will from the start. And he pointed out both that the new technology posed a high risk in production and that Tesla first had to get a grip on the mass production of the new 4680 cells step by step.
Another (or additional) possibility would therefore be that the battery bottom shown by Electrek belongs to a Model S. On Battery Day, Tesla approved the orders for its extra-fast plaid variant and stated a range of at least 520 miles (836 km) according to the US EPA standard. That’s almost 30 percent more than the current Model S, which roughly corresponds to the difference between its current battery and the value calculated for the 4680 floor. Either way, the new Tesla cells are apparently getting closer – and with them capacities that should finally make any range fears disappear.