Tesla Is Moving Machinery to Make 4680 Cells from Germany to Texas

When Tesla was building Giga Grünheide, it wanted a 4680 cell factory there as well. After all, the German plant would test a “lot of new technology,” as Elon Musk tweeted in 2020. On November 26, 2021, Tesla withdrew its application for subsidies for a battery plant there: it would not be eligible, and the process slowed the factory approval. Now the EV maker is moving the machines to make cells from Germany to Texas.
Tesla took the machines that would make 4680 cells in Germany to Texas 20 photos
Photo: Tesla
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The reason is not that the company gave up on the cell plant there for good or that it wants to seize the new federal tax credit created in the U.S. by the Inflation Reduction Act. The energy crisis in Germany also would not explain the decision. According to Handelsblatt, it has only postponed the factory because the dry battery electrode coating (DBE) technology is still not ready for production – which is a lame excuse if you consider the bigger picture.

We have already told our readers about that: all teardowns made of the 4680 cell show that it is just a large and ordinary NMC 811 cell. If the lack of the DBE tech were enough to prevent them from hitting production lines, the Texan Model Y would not have these cells in the first place. If it is suitable for American customers, why is it not the right choice for Europeans?

Handelsblatt spoke to five experts, two of whom are close to Tesla, and heard that DBE is “running quite successfully, but that implementation in large series is lacking.” That is like saying something is ready for the market, but you have no idea how to manufacture it in volumes that will make it economically feasible. In practical terms, you are still far from having a product.

That said, Tesla could be waiting to be eligible for German subsidies to make its factory. Elon Musk could also be afraid of the nuclear bombs Vladimir Putin is threatening to use to attack Ukraine even more and is placing expensive battery manufacturing machines in a safer location. Tesla could also be willing to put all efforts into the new American federal tax credit or to save some money in doing so.

At this point, only Tesla could answer its reason for carrying these machines to Texas. What matters to European buyers is that the German Model Y will have Chinese cells, which the Chinese vehicles they used to buy already presented. Will it make sense to have a factory just to make a few units of the Model Y? Perhaps Giga Grünheide will remain as a “gigantic money furnace” for more time than new factories usually do.

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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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