As we discussed several times in the past, Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 is already producing battery packs for stationary energy storage, Powerwalls and Powerpacks, but the next two important milestones are battery cell manufacturing and vehicle battery pack manufacturing.
While the first battery cell assembly line is up at the plant, it’s not in operation and Tesla is sticking to its “later this year” projection. For the first time yesterday, Tesla gave some color on the first vehicle battery pack production at the Gigafactory, which can hint at the automaker updating its lineup in the near future.
The first Gigafactory battery cells will be used in Tesla Energy products, but they will soon after make their way in vehicle battery packs.
But the battery packs at the factory will feature a new architecture. Even though the battery cells themselves will be bigger than the ones currently used (18650 to 20700), the battery packs will be smaller thanks to better packaging and cooling.
At the Gigafactory event yesterday, Elon Musk said that the first vehicle battery packs will come out of the factory in about 6 months and will be used as development battery pack for the Model 3.
In 8 to 9 months, battery packs for the Model S and X will also rollout for validation and for production in the following months.
Tesla CTO JB Straubel said last year that the majority of Tesla’s development effort was devoted to this new battery architecture, which aims to have an important impact on cost and performance. Therefore, it’s likely to have a significant effect on the company’s battery lineup.
Tesla has been updating its battery options ever since the introduction of the Model S in 2012. The vehicle was first offered with 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh options. The lineup has since changed to 60 kWh, 75 kWh and 90 kWh (with the 60 kWh option being a software-limited 75 kWh just like the 40 kWh was 60 kWh).
The rollout of vehicle battery packs at the Gigafactory is likely to affect those battery options again.
While the Tesla Model 3 battery packs, at least for the base version, are not expected to exceed in energy capacity what Tesla is currently offering in its higher-end lineup, the company is expected to keep increasing the capacity for the Model S and X.
The next update is expected to be the 100 kWh battery pack first spotted in Tesla’s software earlier this year. Are we gonna have to wait for the first Gigafactory packs to see the upgrade? Or will the Gigafactory bring even higher capacity packs?