Vehicle design is a critical component of efficiency and performance. With the introduction of the new 4680 battery cells, which are significantly larger than those previously used, Tesla is forced to redesign the battery pack, which will be qualitatively different from anything on the market. The company's new patent demonstrates that by integrating new cells, the battery pack is even safer while reducing manufacturing costs.
Tesla has always placed great emphasis on improving the design of its vehicles. During Battery Day, the company announced that it will improve the design of its vehicles using a new battery architecture, taking a truly radical approach to car parts manufacturing. For some time now, Tesla has been developing a plan, which includes a huge machine, to reduce the number of parts for making car frames. As a result, the company introduced the Giga Press capable of casting these parts in single piece. Vehicles made in this way are safer, and manufacturing significantly reduces assembly time, operating costs, production costs, plant floor space, equipment manufacturing costs, tools, and equipment.
In addition to bolstering the car's frame, Tesla plans to drastically improve the design of its vehicles using a new battery architecture. With the new form factor, Tesla is able to minimize negative mass, thus increasing the density of the battery pack. The battery is then able to be positioned more efficiently, further reducing redundant structures within the packaging itself. Tesla described the design of the new battery pack in the 'Integrated energy storage system' patent published on May 27.
FIG. 1B is a block diagram depicting illustrative components of a unitary battery pack in accordance with illustrative embodiments. Source: Tesla patent
The car's chassis, with two single-piece casting parts for the front and rear, allows the battery to be placed in the middle. As a result, this greatly simplifies production. Also, because the battery can be located in the center of the car, its safety is increased. Tesla cars produced in such a way can be even more protected from side impact. Furthermore, a centrally located battery enhances driving performance, namely agility. Altogether, these improvements result in a 10% weight reduction, a 14% increase in range, a significant reduction in the number of parts, and the overall increased structural integrity of the vehicle.
In addition, the patent described that new materials will be used in the new packaging, which will be extremely important if there is a collision and breakdown of one or more batteries. The battery pack will include a bottom layer that is formed from a honeycomb or ridged surface that is mechanically bonded to the cells inside the battery pack. As such, it will be able to absorb and distribute impact energy from below, mitigating potential damage to sensitive battery materials or breach of the sealed battery pack enclosure.
Despite the high rigidity and strength of this material, it can also deform in response to impact from below. The series of ridges in the package may allow gases to escape from the battery in the event of cell damage or in the event of a thermal runaway occurring within one or more cells of the battery pack.
As an additional benefit, Tesla's new battery pack architecture significantly reduces material and capital costs of production. By implementing different configurations, designers or manufacturers can reduce additional cost, weight, volume, and design complexity. Dramatically simplified manufacturing assembly accelerates design, launch, and scaling of high-volume automated manufacturing facilities, while for a given production capacity, reducing equipment footprint.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.