Without 4680 Cells, Tesla May Have Created a Structural 2170 Battery Pack

Tesla Model Y Battery Packs at Giga Gruenheide 11 photos
Photo: Twitter/Tesla fans
IDRA Group Giga PressesIDRA Group Giga PressesIDRA Group Giga PressesIDRA Group Giga PressesTesla's 4680 Structural Battery PackTesla's 4680 Structural Battery PackTesla's 4680 Structural Battery PackHow the Rear Structure for the Model Y Could Have BeenWhat Mega Castings Helped Tesla Save on the Model YTesla Model Y Battery Packs at Giga Gruenheide
Volkswagen had an emergency meeting on October 1, 2021, to discuss Tesla’s Giga Grünheide, apparently afraid that Tesla is much more efficient at building cars. On October 9, Tesla held the Giga Fest to present its German factory. No members of the press were allowed in it, only fans. And they shared pictures that may show Tesla has created a structural battery pack with 2170 cells, because the 4680 are not ready yet.
According to Business Insider, Herbert Diess was worried Tesla would build a Model 3 in ten hours, while Volkswagen spends 30 hours building an ID.3. The Model Y Tesla announced it would make in Grünheide would be even faster to build thanks to mega castings, and the 4680 structural battery pack.

The mega castings were apparently a great idea. Instead of welding multiple stamped parts to form the rear or front structures of the car, Tesla would just cast these massive structures in one piece. It bought multiple IDRA Group Giga Presses, developed a special alloy, and started delivering the Model Y with them. However, it was not all of a sudden.

The Model Y started its career with two mega castings for the rear structure in Fremont. Tesla later managed to make casting for it and it would be on the verge of doing the front structure in the same way. For that arrangement to work as planned, the structural battery pack would be crucial. Otherwise, the stamped body would still have to be stiff enough to dismiss the structural component that would link the front and rear mega castings.

Tesla's 4680 Structural Battery Pack
Photo: Tesla
Giga Grünheide was conceived to have that structural battery pack, which needs 4680 cells. When Elon Musk disclosed that they were not ready yet, all the rush to get the German factory to work suddenly made no sense. If a vital component is missing, Tesla would have to wait for it to be ready anyway. The tweets from the Giga Fest suggested that the company might have found a way to overcome that.

Tesla presented a 2170 battery pack right beside the 4680 battery pack at Giga Grünheide’s party. Although that looked just like the comparison of the current and the future Model Y, the 2170 unit looked different from the one currently used, according to Tesla fans. Alex Voigt said it appeared not to have modules anymore, although the picture he shared presented four clear divisions. Scott Schreck pointed that out in his tweet.

Adam Berg then showed that the 4680 battery pack will have the front seats directly mounted to it. The body-in-white would then be placed above them – like a hat – which would save the need for robots to place the seats inside the car. Tesla will still have to use them for the instrument panel and the rear seat, but the solution for the front units could help to speed up manufacturing. This is what reinforces the idea of a structural 2170 battery pack.

Tesla's 4680 Structural Battery Pack
Photo: Tesla
Giga Grünheide was apparently designed to produced cars by placing their bodies over a structural battery pack that already presented the front seats. If the 2170 battery pack is not structural, Tesla will still need robots to install the front seats in the car. It would make no sense to have them while the 4680 battery pack is not ready, and get rid of them when it is.

More than that, if the German Model Y units were conceived to present a structural battery pack, not having it would demand Tesla to produce a different Model Y, with a body that was already strong enough without the structural component. Unless the vehicle was conceived to work with and without the internal elements to ensure that, it is almost equivalent to producing two different cars in the same production line. Theoretically, It would be easier to create a structural battery pack with the 2170 cells.

That’s something not even the people invited for the Giga Fest were able to determine. That indicates that Tesla’s decision to kill its PR department may have made it more difficult to talk even with its most devoted fans.

Tesla's 4680 Structural Battery Pack
Photo: Tesla
What they truly know is that Musk expects production at Giga Grünheide in November, despite all the work that still lies ahead. As we wrote on September 30, engineers think that it will take Tesla at least another six months for the factory to be ready. March or April 2022 would be a more feasible date for the start of production.

Confirming other rumors, Musk also asked people to apply from all over Europe to work at Giga Grünheide. The company is facing difficulties in recruiting workers in Germany. It may have to do with its anti-union approach and to offering lower wages than other companies. The pay gap would be compensated by the promise of stock options and bonuses. However, it seems it did not attract people as much as Tesla thought it would.

Apart from the fans, what the factory attracted were about 250 protesters that screamed that Tesla was stealing their water. Musk laughed about these concerns in a previous visit to the factory in August, saying that it rains a lot in the area.

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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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