Tesla's highly-anticipated Battery Day is almost here, and the company is expected to answer a number of key questions.
On Tuesday, CEO Elon Musk is expected to participate in an event he described in April as "one of the most exciting days in Tesla's history." The live-streamed event will start on September 22, immediately after the annual shareholder event. The shareholder event, which will provide an overview of the company's past year to investors, is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Expectations are high for Tesla's planned upgrades to one of the most important components of the electric car. Advancements in battery technology could make the difference between electric cars as a niche curiosity and a mass-market alternative to gas.
A better battery could also mean cheaper car prices, more electric range, safer operation, better longevity, and faster recharge times. These are issues that regularly surface in questionnaires about why would-be buyers haven't made the jump.
The new developments could also bring Tesla's future range to even more drivers. The company started selling the original Roadster in 2008, before moving onto the more traditional Model S sedan and Model X SUV in 2012 and 2015 respectively. The entry-level Model 3 sedan in 2017 and Model Y compact SUV in 2020 brought the cars to more consumers than ever.
Tesla has a slew of vehicles in the pipeline. Future vehicles include the Semi truck, Cybertruck pickup truck, and second-generation Roadster. Musk claimed this week it's these latter three vehicles that will benefit the most from the new cells.
Here are some of the unanswered questions around the event.
Tesla Battery Day: 4 biggest questions
How much cheaper will these batteries be? – Battery prices are big news. Tom Raftery, global vice present for SAP, claimed in a 2018 Forbes article that a $100 per kilowatt-hour battery is "widely agreed to be the figure where EVs and ICE vehicles will have a comparable upfront purchase price."
Even at those prices, that's a big chunk of the car's overall price spent on batteries: a 100 kilowatt-hour Tesla Model S would still sport a $10,000 battery.
How cheap could it be? Tesla may not say at the event. Jordan Giesige, host of YouTube channel "The Limiting Factor," told Inverse in May that Tesla is likely at $100 per kilowatt-hour at the cell level and $150 at the pack level. Tesla could undercut the Model 3 with a $25,000 car once those figures start to reach closer to $70 or $80.
How much could they improve range? – Battery range is important, and Musk knows it. This year, the Model S reached the ability to run 400 miles on a single charge. When canceling the entry-level Model Y, Musk claimed it was because a car that can't travel more than 250 miles per charge is a tough sell.
Tesla has already hinted at how far these future batteries could move. The high-end Cybertruck is expected to offer over 500 miles of range, while the Roadster is set to offer 620 miles when it launches sometime after the Cybertruck.
What will the rollout look like? – This week, Musk wrote on Twitter that the advancements won't "reach serious high-volume production until 2022." Musk also claimed that the event "affects long-term production, especially Semi, Cybertruck & Roadster." Details of the rollout could become clearer at the event.
Will it enable the electric jet? – A battery that offers greater energy density could pave the way for flying vehicles. Musk has spoken about his dreams to create an electric jet, but batteries would need to level up from the present-day 250 watt-hours per kilogram to more like 400 to make the idea work. Musk stated last month that this breakthrough could be three to four years away.
Tesla Battery Day: when it starts and how to watch
Tesla will stream the battery event on September 22. It will immediately follow the annual shareholder event, which is due to start at these times:
- 1:30 p.m. Pacific time.
- 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
- 9:30 p.m. British Summertime.
- 10:30 p.m. Central European time.
- 4:30 a.m. China Standard time (Wednesday).
- 6:30 a.m. Australian Eastern time (Wednesday).
The event will be streamed via Tesla's website live. Tesla has previously made recordings of its events available on YouTube, including past annual shareholder meetings, so visit the company's channel if you miss the event at the time.