In a conference call with analysts, Elon Musk claimed that Tesla’s new 2170 battery cell, which will be made with manufacturing partner Panasonic at the Gigafactory in Nevada, is “the best cell in the world that is also the cheapest cell,” reports Electrek. The new battery cells are expected to go into production before the end of the year.
Musk addressed the new battery and its potential when discussing the electric automaker’s expanding partnership with Panasonic during the call. According to Electrek, Musk later clarified the statement by claiming the battery cell has the “best energy density in the world.”
The claim is a bold one, which isn’t a surprise coming from Musk, as companies have had to compromise by choosing an expensive, energy dense-cell or one that is lower cost and density. Currently, Tesla uses 18650 battery cells (pictured above) from Panasonic in its Model S and Model X cars. The 18650 (also known as 18-650) cell measures in at 18 millimeters in diameter and 65 millimeters in length. If the 2170 (or 21-70) follows the same logic, it should measure 21 millimeters in diameter and 70 millimeters long.
The 18650 battery cells in Tesla’s current electric vehicles have an estimated energy density of approximately 250 Wh/kg (watt-hour per kilogram). Earlier this year, a Tesla official stated that the company’s battery pack in the Model S costs “less than $190 per kWh,” and Electrek estimates it to be between $100 to $150 per kWh depending on the size of the battery pack in the vehicle. Elon Musk did not provide specifics on the cost of the 2170 cells.
While Musk didn’t mention which vehicles will use the new cells, it’s safe to assume they’ll find their way into the upcoming Model 3. And given Tesla’s history of constant updates, don’t be surprised if the Model S and Model X get an upgrade as well.