A video clip posted by The Limiting Factor YouTube declares that Tesla's 4680 battery cells have less energy density and more cobalt than the 2170 battery cells used by the Tesla Model Y.
Tesla's 4680 battery cells assembled in Austin for the Tesla Model Y are made up of regular ol' NMC ternary chemistry, with the only difference being that they are more significant, as was disclosed in two videos released to YouTube in September by the Munro Live and The Limiting Factor channels. A new video from the second of these channels confirms that these battery cells aren't as good as they could be because they have less energy density and more cobalt.
A study by UC San Diego found that the Austin, Texas-produced Tesla Model Y's 4680 battery cells have a lower energy density (244 Wh/kg) than the Panasonic 2170 battery cells powering the Fremont-assembled Model Y and the LG cells powering the Shanghai-produced Tesla Model Y and Tesla Model 3.
The Limiting Factor bought a battery cell from the Tesla Model Y that had been dismantled by Munro Live and had it studied by researchers at UC San Diego. He spent $800 for this part, and the team from this university was able to determine how much cobalt was utilized to make its cathode thanks to it. This increases cobalt consumption compared to standard NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) batteries.
But nickel should make up a more significant part of 4680 battery cells because it makes it easier to make batteries with more energy and lessens the amount of cobalt, which is the most expensive part of the NMC family.
Part of the reason why the Tesla Model Y assembled in Austin weighs more than the one produced in Fremont is due to the lower energy density of the Austin-assembled vehicle. The cast parts used to build the vehicle's frame can also contribute to this rise, but they do make car production easier. This may be why BMW CEO Oliver Zipse claims, "The partially lower manufacturing costs are more than offset by the casting expenses." He added that his firm has "far more efficient means of building an automobile body."
According to The Limiting Factor, Tesla would be giving consumers a lower-spec automobile to save money by building a larger vehicle because it was probably cheaper to construct than the conventional Tesla Model Y. While we wait for Tesla to respond to our claims, we don't yet know if the company will be able to deliver on the promises it made regarding the production of these battery cells during their initial unveiling.
The 4680 battery cells are six times more powerful and have an energy capacity five times larger than current ones, as Elon Musk described during the cells' unveiling. Because of its bigger dimensions, it can contain more than five times as much energetic stuff. We improved the benefits by doing away with the connectors that formerly joined each electrode to the battery case. We achieved a 16 percent gain in autonomy at a lower cost to manufacture.
These cells also make it possible to build a structural battery pack, which incorporates the battery itself—situated on the vehicle's floor—into the vehicle's resistant construction, thus reducing the need for reinforcements and, by extension, the vehicle's overall weight and manufacturing costs. Tesla's innovative method involves the battery platform is integral to the car's structure, as it is permanently fastened to the chassis.
The video from The Limiting Factor YouTube channel is available here.