Teardowns Show Tesla's 4680 Cells Are Just Big and Ordinary NMC 811 Batteries

At Tesla Battery Day, Elon Musk promised the new 4680 cells would be revolutionary. They would give the EV maker an edge that even the most promising car companies would only achieve many years from when Tesla first offered them. The first teardowns show some key elements are missing, which makes 4680 cells just ordinary NMC 811 batteries, even if bigger than most of the other cylindrical solutions.
Tesla 4680 cell teardowns reveal it is only an ordinary and big NMC 811 cell 7 photos
Photo: Tesla
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Taylor Ogan created a Twitter thread to explain each of the promises that the production of 4680 cells has failed to fulfill. The first one is that they would have silicon in the anode. Although the CEO of Snow Bull Capital talked about the “first teardown” and presented Munro Live’s video in his tweets, we have found another one, conducted by the University of California (UC) San Diego and shared by The Limiting Factor.

While the Munro Live team obtained a 4680 battery from a Model Y made in Texas that Munro & Associates bought, The Limiting Factor got its 4680 cell from Galileo Russell from Hyperchange. We have no idea how the Tesla investor and YouTuber managed to obtain a 4680 battery six months ago or even earlier than that. Both videos confirm that both versions of the 4680 battery use graphite, not silicon.

Another promise Musk made at the Tesla Battery Day was that the 4680 cells would use a cobalt-free, high-nickel cathode. Munro’s teardown analyzed the cathode and said it is a typical NMC 811 chemistry. In other words, it does not present two of the main advantages these cells would have. The Limiting Factor also stressed that the battery shell is three times thicker than that used in 2170 cells, dropping their energy density.

Ogan also asked about the dry battery electrode coating (DBE) technology Tesla was supposed to use in the 4680 cells more than a year ago. It is not clear if the dismantled cells use this technology, but Tesla would probably brag about that if it did. The only promise that seems to have been accomplished is the tabless design. For a battery that was supposed to give an incredible edge to Tesla, calling it disappointing is an understatement.

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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