Tesla’s Battery Day has been hyped so much that to live up to its standards the event would have to involve something truly spectacular. A leaked picture that features what is allegedly a cell from Tesla’s “Roadrunner” line has emerged in the lead up to the highly anticipated event. And if the leak is true, it would seem that not only will Battery Day satisfy expectations, it would be far more crazy than expected.
The leaked image, which was originally published in an Electrek article, featured a huge battery cell which was supposedly a Roadrunner line product. The publication stated that the image was submitted and verified by another independent source via an anonymous source. It is clear from the get-go that the cell is massive, similar to a supercapacitor in size than a typical battery cell. Initial findings online by battery enthusiasts often point to some drastic changes that would bring about such a cell design.
While Electrek sources reported that the Roadrunner cell would have approximately double the diameter of the 2170 cells currently used by the electric car manufacturer in Model 3 and Model Y, Tesla enthusiast @_BRCooper, who is familiar with battery tech, noticed that one of the leaked photos had the number “054” printed on their side. If this number represents the diameter of the cell, it will point to the Roadrunner cells of Tesla adopting a shape factor of 54-98, which has 10x the volume of a 2170 cell.
As noted on YouTube by Jordan Giesige of The Limiting Factor channel, adopting a 54×98 form factor for its next-generation cells has various implications for the entire battery production process and Tesla’s vehicle efficiency as a whole. Tesla might manufacture battery packs that have an order of magnitude of fewer cells than before with the larger cells. Compared to its current activities, this will result in the company only using 1/10 the number of rolls, cans, electrolyte fills, and welds. Such a plan opens the doors for major cost reductions that will help push electric car prices down by a large degree.
But the architecture of the Roadrunner cell appears to be tailored and configured for a cell-to-pack drop-in system regardless of its actual size. Interestingly enough, the leaked image of the Roadrunner cell seems to have a tabless electrode design, which Elon Musk has dubbed is “way more important than it sounds” last year. The new form factor could pave the way for further efficiency and further reductions in manufacturing costs, assuming that the Roadrunner cells are indeed inspired by the Tesla tables electrode patent.
What is even more surprising is that these changes are only possible with the latest form factor and design of the Roadrunner cell. Giesige noted that Tesla could be able to close in on 300 wh/kg before making any major improvements to its battery chemistry with the configuration of the Roadrunner cell and the possible 54-range shape factor alone. In fact, Elon Musk stated an improvement of 30-40 percent from 250 wh/kg back in 2018, which means an improvement of 325-350 wh/kg. The prediction of Musk was considered fantastic by critics then, but as Battery Day approaches and leaks begin to surface about the event, 325-350 wh/kg is more and more likely to be feasible.
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