Tesla Structural Battery Pack, the good and the bad

By Henry Farkas

Back in September of last year, Tesla had its Battery Day presentation (full video below). In January of this year, Electrek wrote an article about the Tesla structural battery. So why am I writing about this now? The structural battery pack was just a gleam in Elon Musk’s eye at that time, but soon, there will be cars that incorporate the new design. Here’s what you should think about if you’re considering buying a Model S Plaid or a Cybertruck with the structural battery pack.

Tesla's structural battery

As Elon said during the presentation, the structural battery pack was inspired by the airline industry. They used to put gas tanks in the wings of airliners. The tanks added weight. More weight meant more fuel needed to fly. Eventually, the aircraft manufacturers figured out that they could save weight if the wings were the gas tanks. They saved weight that way. It’s the same with battery packs. Right now, there are battery cells that are put together in modules. The modules add weight. Then the modules are put together into a large battery pack. That adds more weight. Then all that stuff is put into the structure. More weight means less range.

Tesla engineers figured out that they could save lots of weight if they eliminated modules and if the battery pack was the structure. They do that by making a honeycomb structure with all the wiring and cooling coils inside it. Then they drop in the 4680 cells and epoxy them to the honeycomb structure. For those of you who are not aware, the designation, 4680 refers to the 46mm diameter of the battery cells and the 80mm height of the Tesla cells. Those battery cells are larger than the ones currently in use by all previously made Teslas so they store more power in each cell. For comparison, visualize the current Tesla battery cells being like AA batteries and the 4680 cells being like D batteries. Remember D batteries?

Plane's structural battery

The following picture is from the article in Electrek cited above. You can appreciate the honeycomb pattern of the pack, a structure known for strength and light weight. The coolant loops are built into the sides of the pack.

Tesla honeycomb battery shape

So saving weight, stronger cells, less of them. More battery, less other stuff. It’s all good, right? Maybe.

Here’s the bad part.

If the car gets in an accident and the battery pack is breached, you can’t just take out the old pack and drop in another pack. That might not matter because chances are pretty good that an accident bad enough to damage the battery pack will total the car. From an individual’s perspective, that’s why you get insurance. But there are other considerations if you care about the environment you’re leaving to my grandchildren.

Batteries should be recycled. So far, they’re not designed for recycling. With technology at its current state, it’s cheaper to mine new materials than it is to recycle the materials from used batteries. The ability to recycle gets worse when the batteries are epoxied into a big honeycomb structure. I’m not a chemical engineer so I can’t offer any suggestions about how battery cells could be designed to make recycling cheaper than mining new materials, but they should be designed that way.

The other bad thing about the structural battery pack is that cells don’t all deteriorate at the same rate. With the current battery packs, bad cells can be detected and switched out for good cells to rejuvenate the range of an old Tesla. That won’t be feasible with the structural battery pack. That may or may not be important. It depends on whether the cells last as long as the rest of the car or not. Time will tell, but it’s something to think about if you plan to keep your car for the million miles that Tesla claims their cars are designed to last.

Here is Tesla's 'Battery Day' presentation. If you care exclusively about the structural battery, you can jump to the 1 hour, 19 minute mark.

Sweet Move: Tesla Shifts from Creating EVs to Making Candy

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla has filed four new trademarks recently, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. These trademarks aren’t exactly what you’d expect from Tesla – they’re not for cars, not for batteries, and not for any cool new software features.

They’re for sweet, sweet, candy!

Candy Trademarks

Tesla has filed 4 distinct trademarks in its filings with the USPTO, for the following four names.

  • Supercharged Gummy

  • Cyberberry

  • Mango Bolt

  • Dog Mode Chill

The trademarks don’t come with any particular logos, art, or renderings, or it doesn’t reveal anything besides the names of the candy or candy-like items. Tesla filed these trademarks last month on June 25th.

While we’re not quite sure exactly what type of candies these will be, there is one thing we can knock off the bat – given how premium Tesla’s food products have been, these will likely include high-quality ingredients with a matching price point.

Elon Musk previously hinted that he wanted to start a candy company, and claimed he was super serious. Given his usual 2-week timeline, starting it 7-years later under Tesla seems fairly fitting. Jokes aside, we hope that the candies will launch sometime before the Tesla van, otherwise you can expect some more jokes on that front.

Tesla is well known for designing and selling non-vehicle merchandise. In the past, they’ve sold a glass decal that makes your window look like it was shattered with a metal bearing, Tesla Tequila, the Cybertruck whistle and many others.

Maybe we’ll hear more about Elon’s candy ambitions during Tesla’s upcoming earnings call, which will be taking place this coming Tuesday, July 23rd.

Tesla Looking to Hire 800 New Employees After Recent Layoffs, Large Focus on Energy

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Just three months after Elon Musk fired the entire Supercharger team, and laid off many employees at Tesla, the company is now looking to hire 800 new employees.

This comes after many members of the Supercharger team were hired back after their initial layoffs.

New Hirings

Tesla’s careers page now has more than 800 open positions today, and positions go from anywhere between engineers for artificial intelligence or batteries, ADAS testers in local communities, or service and desk employees for service centers.

Most of the new jobs focus on engineering positions, and many positions in Legal Affairs, Business Support, and vehicle software positions have not been posted or renewed. Those sections remain empty, at least in North America.

Tesla Energy Focus

Interestingly, quite a few of the new positions focus on Telsa Energy and its role in the company. There are several positions for supporting the deployments of Powerwall and Megapack, as well as doing further engineering work on these types of stationary battery systems.

Just recently, Tesla secured a $375 million Megapack contract in Australia – to build one of the biggest 4-hour battery banks in the world. This comes just days after the announcement of a $256 million Megapack contract to expand a different Australian facility.

We’re expecting Tesla to bank more towards its energy business – which has really just started getting off the ground with recent factory expansions and new business. Tesla Powerwall also recently hit some spectacular milestones – 100MW in California delivered to the grid, and 200,000 hours of backup power after Hurricane Beryl in Texas.

Powerwall and Megapack are going to be defining features of Tesla’s business – and we hope to see Tesla Solar – both Solar Panels and Tesla’s Solar Roof, also become more available to the mass market, just like Powerwall is today.

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