In the recent Tesla earnings call, Q3 2021, Drew Baglino—Tesla’s Senior Vice President of Powertrain and Engineering hinted about 4680 battery cells. Saying that the results are promising, Tesla aims to start equipping their vehicles with 4680 battery cells from next year.
Baglino said, Early next year, from a non-cell perspective, structural, battery, crash, range, and reliability testing are on track to be complete this quarter. Testing is—to date has gone well, and the Fremont manufacturing line is on track to support,”
It appears that Tesla is still moving with caution as this is a new technology. Factors other than efficiency like safety are to be considered. Baglino added, “However, similar to what Zach said before, this is a new architecture, and unknown unknowns may exist still. Our top priority is ensuring quality in what we deliver. And from a cell perspective, we are comfortable with the design maturity and manufacturing readiness, matching the packing timeline I just mentioned,”
As Tesla rolls out Cybertruck and Tesla Semi the batteries are to be ready for production. It would be convenient to launch the vehicles with the battery initially, rather than changing it eventually at some point later. Recently it was known that Tesla was successful in a higher production yield of 70-80 percent.
Spike in raw material prices
In addition to the various things announced in the earnings call, CFO Zach Kirkhorn also mentioned rising prices. It was confirmed that Tesla was affected by rising prices, including the raw materials for batteries. Kirkhorn explained that there was a 40% rise in raw materials that are centered around Nickel and Aluminium.
Tesla has a mixture of contracts with various suppliers. Earlier this month, the company signed a multi-year deal with Prony Resources to receive 42,000 tonnes of Nickel. The cost headwinds are resulting in vitality and substantial price increases.
Kirkhorn elaborated, “And as contracts expire there or we have to renew and extend them, we’ll have to return to negotiations. And so, you know, what we have to do as a company and what we are intensely focused on is we need to be continuing to drive down the cost of our products, which we have been doing. And we have to overcome cost increases that are outside of our control,”
Further added, “So whether that’s resourcing components or redesigning components or finding ways to be more efficient in manufacturing, we have no choice but to continue on that path and be even more aggressive in the light of the macroeconomics here,”