Tesla’s Huge Advantage With Batteries and Drive Train

Cairn Energy Research Advisors, a consulting firm specializing in electric vehicle battery research, says Tesla’s cylindrical cell battery pack dropped to $158.27 per kilowatt-hour last year. Tesla is the only automaker to use cylindrical battery cells in its battery packs. The pouch or prismatic battery cells on average cost more than $200 per kWh in 2019.

Tesla’s advantages also are in the drivetrain. They are able to get more range out of the same kilowatt-hour batteries. The Porsche Taycan has a 95 kWh battery and gets only 200 miles of range while Tesla can get nearly 400 miles of range.

Battery cell costs are about 30% less than the battery pack costs. Batteries are improving by about 13-13% per year in terms of cost for kWh. This means that Tesla’s battery cells are becoming less than $100 per kWh in 2020.

Other sources claimed Tesla was already cheaper than $100 per kWh in 2018 and Tesla battery packs would be less than $100 per kWh in 2020.

Tesla announcement of a $40,000 cybertruck with up to 500 miles in range suggests that Tesla will have $108 per kWh battery packs in 2021. Tesla would be building 88 kWh battery packs for $9,500 by 2021. This would put the pack level costs at $108 per kWh by 2021. Tesla would have lowered battery costs by 46% drop from the Model 3 introduction.

Tesla is improving its price performance on batteries by about 14% per year.

There are estimates that the Tesla Cybertruck will need about the same watts per mile as a Model X. This is despite the Tesla Cybertruck being about 15% longer and 20% taller than the Model X. This could be about 38% more mass.

NOTE: author Brian Wang owns share in Tesla.