When will Tesla’s breakthrough 4680 battery finally show up?

With the Cybertruck launch already delayed from 2021, Tesla’s timeline for ramping 4680 production to supply both the Texas-built Model Y and the upcoming pickup is on a tight timeline.

“While Cybertruck production does not require the 4680 cells, they are an important component of the truck’s ultimate success,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global forecasting at AutoForcast Solutions.

“Tesla promised extreme performance of the Cybertruck at its introduction, and the 4680 cells are necessary to reach those promises. A lack of the new cells would slow the acceptance of the truck just as other trucks are making it to the market,” Fiorani said.

Troy Teslike, a Tesla forecaster on the Patreon subscription platform, estimates that the automaker won’t reach 4680 volume production of 5,000 battery packs a week until May 2023.

Teslike estimated that the automaker will produce 220 packs per week in August at its battery pilot plant in Fremont, Calif., and 183 packs a week at the Texas factory that just began battery production.

In addition to the slow ramp, the current 4680s are lacking some of the material and manufacturing improvements that are part of the 4680 development program, Tesla said.

“We weren’t putting all the bells and whistles in from day one,” Andrew Baglino, Tesla’s senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering, said on the earnings call. “The first order of business is really to get the basics right, get to high volume and high reliability and then very rapidly iterate within that to enhance the energy density and reduce the cost of the cell.”

Baglino said Tesla expects to be making at least 1,000 4680 battery packs a week by the end of the year. At the battery event two years ago, Tesla estimated 2022 battery production at 100 gigawatt hours — enough for more than 1 million battery packs for the long-range version of the Model Y.

“As we attain the manufacturing goals that we’ve stated at the ramp that we need to hit next year, we are certainly planning to layer in new material technologies and higher-range structural packs,” Baglino said. “We’re not holding back goodies for some rainy day or something like that.”

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