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.
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?
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.
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.
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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has once again raised the bar for vehicle safety in 2024, introducing more rigorous criteria to evaluate the protection vehicles offer to occupants and pedestrians alike. Amidst these enhanced standards, the Tesla Model Y stands out as a recipient of the prestigious Top Safety Pick+ award, affirming its position as a leader in automotive safety, a position it has held for years, also claiming last year’s title.
Innovative Safety Features
The 2024 Tesla Model Y has demonstrated outstanding performance across various safety tests, excelling in crashworthiness and crash avoidance capabilities. The vehicle earned the highest possible rating, 'Good'’ in all tested categories, including small and moderate overlap front tests, side impact tests, roof strength, and head restraint tests. Notably, Model Y's performance in the small overlap front test was particularly commendable, showcasing effective airbag deployment, well-maintained survival space for the dummy, and a low risk of significant injuries.
The Model Y has advanced safety features significantly contributing to its top-tier rating. Among these, automatic emergency braking stands out, displaying superior pedestrian detection and avoidance capabilities under daylight and nighttime conditions. Additionally, the vehicle's LED projector headlights received high praise for their illumination quality, ensuring optimal visibility without causing glare to oncoming traffic. Lars Moravy, VP of Vehicle Engineering at Tesla, explains why the company’s vehicles are so safe.
Recognizing the importance of safety for passengers of all ages, the Tesla Model Y's LATCH system for child seat anchors was rated 'Acceptable.'’ This reflects the vehicle’s commitment to accommodating families and enhancing safety for younger passengers, highlighting the ease of use and accessibility of the anchors.
Absence of Model 3
While the Tesla Model Y has proudly secured its place among the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ awardees for 2024, the Model 3 was noticeably absent from this prestigious list. The reason behind this, as reported by Teslarati, sheds light on the stringent criteria set by IIHS and the potential for future inclusion of Model 3.
Historically, the Model 3 was honored with the Top Safety Pick+ award in 2020, 2021, and 2022 but was notably missing in 2023 and 2024. Joe Young of the IIHS explained to Teslarati the reason behind this absence: the Model 3 has yet to be evaluated in the institute's updated side crash test and lacks a rating in the updated moderate overlap crash test—both critical components of the award criteria for this year.
This lack of current evaluations means the IIHS cannot consider the Model 3 for either safety award at this time. However, it's not a definitive exclusion. The IIHS is open to recognizing the 2024 Model 3 later in the year as additional tests are completed and ratings are updated.
Tesla’s engineering focus on creating the safest vehicles in the world is evident, with an extremely low chance of roll-over and occupant injury, positioning the Model Y as the best-selling car globally and among the safest on the road.
In a series of posts on X, Elon Musk stirred up some late-night excitement, offering tantalizing details about the new Tesla Roadster. Musk reached back to posts from 2018 to update his 374 million followers on X with the latest progress, suggesting that Tesla is on the brink of unveiling a vehicle that promises to redefine the boundaries of the automotive industry again.
Tonight, we radically increased the design goals for the new Tesla Roadster. There will never be another car like this, if you could even call it a car. -Elon Musk
A Leap Toward the Future
Musk kicked off the series of posts by returning to old Twitter posts from June 2018 when he announced that the Roadster would come with a SpaceX option package featuring around ten small rocket thrusters, hints at capabilities far beyond traditional sports cars. These thrusters are expected to dramatically enhance acceleration, top speed, braking, and cornering, with Musk going as far as teasing the possibility of flight.
Beyond Boundaries & Timelines
In 2018, Musk reflected on his automotive journey, from choosing a McLaren F1 over a house in Palo Alto. He updated that tweet by posting you will love the new Roadster more than your house. There’s no telling what happened behind closed doors, but with Cybertruck now out the door, several bright, creative engineers have moved to the next challenge, and given Musk’s posts, there has been a significant breakthrough.
I think it has a shot at being the most mind-blowing product demo of all time
Musk confidently states that there will never be another car like this, challenging the very definition of what a car can be. Completing the production design and announcing an unveiling by the end of the year set a clear timeline for its anticipated debut, matching what was predicated at a recent earnings call.
Collaboration and Innovation
The collaboration between Tesla and SpaceX symbolizes a fusion of automotive and aerospace technologies, promising a product demo that could be the most mind-blowing of all time. Musk's assertion that the Roadster could achieve a 0-60 mph time of less than one second—remarkably stated as the "least interesting part" sets unprecedented expectations for performance.
A Brief History and What We Know
Initially earmarked for a 2021 release, the Roadster's journey to production has been met with delays. Despite this, Musk has remained steadfast that this promised vehicle will not only shatter performance records but also redefine what electric cars are capable of.
Tesla's ambition for the Roadster is clear: to create the fastest production car in the world. With a target 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of under 1.9 seconds and a top speed exceeding 250 mph, the Roadster is poised to outperform even the most advanced sports cars, including Tesla's own Model S Plaid. Slave Popovski created a cool simulation animation of a drag race between the Standard Tesla Roadster and the SpaceX thruster version. He states that thrusters are only on for 1.1 seconds, and he uses motion physics to simulate online figures.
The Roadster's engineering marvel extends to its range and battery efficiency. Equipped with a 200 kWh battery pack, it aims to set a new standard with a range of up to 620 miles on a single charge.
Previously, we’ve heard numbers for a base model starting at around $200,000; the Roadster is positioned as a premium offering in the EV market. The limited-edition Founder's Series and the SpaceX Package will cater to enthusiasts and collectors, highlighting the Roadster's exclusivity.
As Tesla prepares for the most mind-blowing product demo of all time, Elon Musk's vision for the new Tesla Roadster is not just about creating another electric vehicle but pushing the limits of what's possible. With its groundbreaking design, unparalleled performance, and the hint of aerospace-inspired technology, the Roadster is shaping up to be a milestone in automotive history. With its groundbreaking design, unparalleled performance, and the hint of aerospace-inspired technology, the Roadster is shaping to be a milestone in automotive history.
TeslaFi logs your drives and charging sessions, letting you keep a log of your vehice's activity. We highly recommend checking them out if you use your car for business trips and would like to keep track of reimbursements, if you like to see how much you spend on charging or if you just love statistics. Visit their site and see everything they have to offer!
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Tesla Android Project enables you to run Android apps in your Tesla. The platform is Open Source and you can deploy it on your own Raspberry Pi 4. Consider supporting the initiative by donating or purchasing the Compute Module 4 Bundle that delivers the best experience. Get $20 off by using the code: NotATeslaApp
The official Tesla app only notifies you if your car is broken into. By installing Sentry Pro on your phone, you will be notified for all Sentry Mode events. Stay connected and avoid potential surprises by receiving notifications. Stop constantly checking the cameras to ensure safety. Check only when necessary, save battery and get peace of mind. Get a 7 day free trial here!