Tesla Battery Day recap: Model S Plaid, Cybertruck pre-orders and more

Tesla’s Battery Day presentation on Tuesday brought with it a number of important updates, though CEO Elon Musk didn’t touch on quite as many topics as originally expected. Nevertheless, a lot of news came out of the big event, so here’s a look back at the big headlines.

Tesla ‘biscuit tin’ battery

Essentially, the “biscuit tin” is a new kind of battery cell that, while cylindrical in design and using lithium-ion chemistry, has very few similarities with previous cells. As Roadshow’s Kyle Hyatt reported, “The most significant change happens inside the larger cell canister and involves removing the tabs that act as the positive and negative connection points between the anode and cathode and the battery casing.”

Tesla says its new cell design should give its vehicles a 16% increase in range thanks to a 5x increase in energy. The new batteries are reportedly cheaper to produce, as well.

Model S Plaid

The long-awaited, range-topping Model S Plaid was announced during the event and man, the specs are impressive. Musk said the Plaid should have a range of over 520 miles, a top speed of more than 200 mph, a 0-to-60-mph time of under 2 seconds and a quarter-mile time of less than 9 seconds. Hot damn.

The Model S Plaid is now available to configure and order on Tesla’s website. The first deliveries are expected to begin in late 2021.

Half a million Cybertruck pre-orders

The big, brutish Tesla Cybertruck that debuted last November will enter production in the not-too-distant future, and apparently, a lot of folks are interested. Musk said the truck has roughly 600,000 pre-orders, which backs up an unofficial, third-party estimate from March.

Now, keep in mind, these are just pre-orders — $100 fully refundable deposits from people who are potentially interested in a Cybertruck. How many the company actually ends up selling right off the bat obviously remains to be seen.

Full Self-Driving beta

Despite what the name suggests, none of Tesla’s products are self-driving cars. But Musk is working to unlock the full potential of his cars’ Autopilot technology, and says a private, beta test of the Full Self-Driving suite should be available in the coming months.

“We had to do a fundamental rewrite of the entire Autopilot software stack… We’re now labeling 3D video, which is hugely different from when we were previously labeling single 2D images,” Musk said. “We’re now labeling entire video segments, taking all cameras simultaneously and labeling that. The sophistication of the neural net of the car and the overall logic of the car is improved dramatically.”

Musk sums up his impressions clearly: “It’s profound.”

A $25,000 Tesla?

Remember the $35,000 Tesla Model 3? Yeah. Well. Anyway. Musk says an even cheaper car is being considered, and Elon thinks Tesla can do it thanks to reduced battery and manufacturing costs. 

“We’re confident that long term we can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 electric vehicle,” Musk said. It’s expected to arrive in the next three years. We’ll see.


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First published Sept. 3.

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