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Tesla doesn’t expect constraints in 4680 battery cell supply this year, current production capacity unknown

Tesla gave an update on the status of its in-house production of the 4680 battery cell. The company didn’t want to confirm a production capacity, but it did say that it doesn’t expect to have supply constraints from it this year.

In 2020, Tesla unveiled its new 4680 battery cell, a new tabless cylindrical cell in a much bigger format that the company claimed six times the power and five times the energy capacity while significantly reducing the cost.

Since the unveiling, Tesla has been producing the 4680 cells at a “pilot production facility” in Fremont and deploying large-scale production at other factories, including Gigafactory Texas and Gigafactory Berlin.

The first Tesla vehicle to feature the new 4680 battery cells is going to be the Model Y produced at Gigafactory Nevada.

Last week, we reported that Tesla planned to deliver those first new Model Ys by the end of the quarter.

After the release of the company’s Q4 2021 earnings, Tesla Senior Vice President of Engineering, Drew Baglino, provided an update on 4680 battery cell production:

“Throughout 2021, we focused on growing cell supply alongside our in-house 4680 effort to provide us flexibility and insurance as we attempt to grow as fast as possible. As we sit today, sales from suppliers actually sort of exceeds our other factory-limiting constraints that you mentioned, Elon, in 2022. Or to say differently, 4680 cells are not a constraint to our 2022 volume plans, based on the information we have. But we are making meaningful progress on the ramp curve in Kato. We’re building 4680 structural packs every day, which are being assembled into vehicles in Texas. I was driving one yesterday and the day before. And we believe our first 4680 vehicles will be delivered this quarter.”

The engineering executive confirmed that first deliveries are expected by the end of the quarter using cells from the factory on Kato road in Fremont, but he didn’t confirm the production capacity of the pilot plant.

While Tesla is calling it a “pilot factory”, the automaker had announced a goal to produce 10 GWh of battery cells at the plant, which is more than many other full-scale battery cell factory.

Baglino also said that Tesla is making progress deploying cell production capacity at GIgafactory Texas:

“Our focus on the cell, the pack and the vehicles here is driving yield quality and cost to ensure we’re ready for larger volumes this year as we ramp and next year. And the 4680 and pack tool installations here at Giga Austin are progressing well with some areas producing first parts.”

Gigafactory Texas is expected to be the first full-scale 4680 battery cell production facility with a capacity of over 100 GWh per year.

With the facility in Kato, and eventually the start of production in Texas, and 4680 supply from cell suppliers, Tesla doesn’t expect a constraint in 4680 cells this year.

CEO Elon Musk said that chip supply is still Tesla’s main production constraint for 2022.

He expects the situation to improve later this year, and that next year, battery cell supply might again become Tesla’s biggest bottleneck in increasing production.

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