Above: Inside the 2170 battery cell (Youtube: Portable Electric Vehicle)
Tesla hopes to produce these new, larger cells at the same cost as the old cells, which means a reduction in total battery cost. It’s also assumed (though Tesla won’t confirm any numbers at this point) that the battery chemistry has been improved, yielding a higher energy density. Producing the cells in mass quantities at the massive Gigafactory will allow Tesla to achieve economies of scale.
Adding all these factors together, plus advances in the way the cells are assembled into modules and complete battery packs, should yield a significant reduction in battery costs. But how much? This question is being discussed at great length, and not only by techies. It’s of great importance to stock market analysts, because it’s bound up with the question of how much profit Tesla is going to be able to make on the “moderately priced” Model 3.
Above: Randy Carlson estimates that a battery module with a single layer of horizontally arranged cells, sized to fit Model 3's wheelbase and tire size, would hold 220 of the "2170" GigaFactory cells in a 22 Parallel x 10 Series arrangement (Source: Seeking Alpha)
Stock pundit Randy Carlson of Seeking Alpha (usually a forum for diehard Tesla bears) has gone into excruciating detail about the thickness of Model 3’s floor, reasoning that whether the battery cells are mounted vertically (as in the Model S/X battery pack) or horizontally will yield some priceless insight into how great an improvement in energy density Tesla and Panasonic have been able to achieve.
Above: Tesla showed an arrangement of eight battery modules when the Model 3 was unveiled; the length of the modules is constrained by the available distance between front and rear wheelwells (Source: Seeking Alpha)
At the Model 3 unveiling, Tesla showed a drawing with eight large, flat battery modules, but offered no details about how the cells would be arranged within the modules. “If we know [the thickness of] the floor of Model 3, and we know its range, we will have a pretty good idea [of the efficiency of] the GigaFactory cell chemistry,” writes Carlson.
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