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Tesla Model S Plaid+ May Have Died Due to 4680 Cell Production Issues

When Lucid revealed the Air would have an estimated EPA range of 517 miles, Tesla soon said the Model S Plaid+ would have more than 520 miles of range. Yet, in a tweet on June 6, Elon Musk said it would cancel the super sedan. According to the Tesla CEO, the company would not need it, “as Plaid is just so good.” Nobody bought it. Although it may seem that Tesla just gave up competing with Lucid, knowing that the Plaid+ would use 4680 cells in a structural pack makes them look like the culprit.
Tesla's 4680 cell 5 photos
Tesla's 4680 battery cellsTesla's 4680 battery cellsPanasonic's  Financial 2021 Fiscal Results presentationTesla Battery Day
Althought the Plaid+ is dead, the Plaid is still on track – until now. Their only difference relates to their batteries. It is advisable to keep a close eye on this story. The Tesla Cybertruck also depends on these new cells, as well as the Semi, the second-generation Roadster, and the German Model Y. In other words, the Model S Plaid+ could be only the first of a series of Tesla products that may at the very least be postponed.

At the Q1 2021 earnings call on April 26, 2021, Musk said this:

“We're not quite yet at the point where we think the cells are reliable enough to be shipped in cars, but we're getting close to that point.”

A little after that, he gave his estimate for when that would happen.

“And basically, this is just a guess because we don't know for sure, but it appears as though we're about 12 – probably not more than 18 months away from volume production of the 4680. Now, at the same time, we are actually trying to have our cell supply of partners ramp up their supply as much as possible. So this is not something that is to the exclusion of suppliers. It is in conjunction with suppliers. So we want to be super clear about that. This is not about replacing suppliers. It is about supplementing the suppliers.”

That would mean the 4680 cells would be ready by April 2022 in the best-case scenario. However, if they just took the longer road, they would get there by October 2022. 

Tesla first promised the Model S Plaid+ for late-2021, the same deadline given for the Cybertruck. Then, the company changed the delivery date on its page to mid-2022 until the Plaid became “just so good.”

Curiously, Panasonic disclosed at its Financial 2021 Fiscal Results presentation that it would maximize its Japan battery plant with 4680 cells. To be more specific, it said it had an “advance in R&D” (research and development) with them and that it would install equipment for prototype production in FY2022.” 

If Panasonic believes it will produce prototype – not commercially viable – cells in 2022, the idea of having their manufacturing-ready version by mid-2022 could sound too optimistic. October 2022 may seem more feasible.

Considering how much Musk personally praised the Plaid+ and said it would beat the Lucid Air, the excuses that the Plaid is “just so good” or that people do not need more than 400 miles of range do not add up.

It could be the case that initial production will be enough only for the Cybertruck and nothing else. However, Musk also said at that earnings call that Tesla bought battery manufacturing equipment for Giga Austin and Giga Grünheide. Apart from that, the Model S Plaid+ would have low sales volumes with a $149,990 price tag. Why cancel it?

Whatever the reason is, it is not that the Plaid is “just so good.” There’s clearly more to this story than Musk or Tesla are willing to admit. More than that, it can have more implications than just for Plaid+ reservation holders informed they should buy another car through a tweet. Stay tuned.

 
 
 
 
 

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