There’s no shortage of engineers who’ve made incredible one-off prototypes, which work as proofs-of-concept for potential products. But actually producing a given product at scale—for millions of people—is a truly epic challenge. Now, a new video from electric-car maker Tesla demonstrates that to the Deep Space Nines. And the speedy overview of the complex process is pretty dancy to boot.
The electric-vehicle maker recently posted the brief video to its Twitter and YouTube accounts. The video, simply titled “Making batteries,” shows how the vehicle (and energy) company makes lithium-ion battery cells for its vehicles.
The video, which—we’re guessing—the company recorded at its Fremont factory in California, shows countless machines working in elegant, and extremely rapid, unison. We’re guessing Fremont because that’s where the company has the “pilot factory” producing its new battery type. The one Tesla says will be cheaper, and more efficient than current lithium-ion batteries. The new batteries will also use nickel instead of cobalt. (Cobalt is problematic for the battery industry as a whole, in large part because of unethical mining practices.)
These batteries also appear to be the ones that CEO Elon Musk and his team revealed on the company’s “Battery Day” in 2020. They are “tabless,” meaning they don’t have the tabs normal lithium-ion cells have; ones necessary to transfer the energy from the cells to an external source.
On Twitter, Musk said that “Battery cell production is the fundamental rate-limiter slowing down a sustainable energy future,” and that it is a “very important” problem.
The best manufacturing technology is in ultra high volume industries, like food & beverage, some medical (eg syringes) & toys— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 18, 2021
In other tweets, Musk said technology in high-volume industries, such as the toy industry, inspires Tesla’s battery lines. Speaking of toys and Teslas, while the cars themselves are still pricey, there are more affordable options for transportation from the electric-vehicle maker; at least for kids. And when the company’s so-called “full self-driving” software comes to fruition—if ever—a trip in a robotaxi should be pretty cheap too.