Tesla 4680 Battery Pack Charging Results & Teardown Report (Video)

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Tesla has been building a dual motor version of the Model Y with the new 4680 battery pack that is a structural component of the car for a few weeks now — enough time for people to run some charging tests and begin tearing them down to understand how they are put together.

Tesla Model Y 4680 Charging Times

A tweet from a former Tesla employee seems to confirm the new 4680 pack is capable of charging faster than the pack Tesla uses to power the Model Y Long Range. Twitter user Colin Calvert used that information to construct a very helpful graph that reveals the new battery pack continues to charge at 50 kW even after the battery reaches an 80% SOC.

Tesla has a tendency to improve things like vehicle acceleration, range, and charging speed via software tweaks as it learns more about how its hardware is doing out in the field. Better performance may be possible once Tesla gains some experience with its new battery pack.

The Sandy Munro 4680 Teardown

Regular reader Chris Tromley got in touch with the grand poohbahs at CleanTechnica recently to ask if we could do a deep dive into the new 4680 structural battery pack with a particular emphasis on whether this amazing new technology is all its cracked up to be, particularly when it comes to recycling. Getting information out of Tesla these days is like asking questions of the Sphinx, but fortunately, Sandy Munro and his team have done some of the heavy lifting for us.

During the first few days the Munro team had the battery pack, it was able to partially open the steel cover of the pack and see a massive block of Tesla’s 4680-type cylindrical battery cells, glued together (and to the steel enclosure) by some kind of pink polyurethane, which happens to be extremely hard and durable. The battery cells appear to be arranged in four rows, as shown in Tesla’s videos, but there are no modules, as the entire concept is to create a structural battery in which cells are carrying forces.

Here’s the primary finding so far: According to Munro Live’s Cory Steuben, “the repairability of this is essentially zero.” Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe it’s not. It reminds some people of an issue with iPhones a few years back that had their batteries glued in so the only way to repair one if the battery failed was to throw it away and buy a new one. The structural battery pack is clearly intended to last as long as the car itself. Whether that proves true in practice is something that is unknowable at this moment.

Chris Tromley also had a question about the recyclability of the the new structural battery pack, particularly because it has so much polyurethane inside. Once again, we have to say we just don’t know the answer to that question right now. It seems inconceivable that Tesla would not have consulted with Redwood Materials about how to recycle the new batteries and structural battery packs right from the beginning, especially considering that Redwood Materials was founded and is run by JB Straubel, a Tesla cofounder and longtime Chief Technology Officer before moving on to Redwood Materials. Also, China and many European nations have strict regulations about battery recycling. Surely, Tesla will be in compliance with all of them, no?

The answers to these questions are simply not available now. As we learn more we will share that information with our readers. In the meantime, check out this Munro video below and decide for yourself whether the 4680 structural battery pack is the wave of the future or a nightmare waiting to happen.

Featured image: Screenshot of Tesla video

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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