Tesla Giga Berlin that is located in Germany will become the first production line of the company that adopts its latest technology, which indicates that the European version of Model Y will be the first batch of “lab rats” since these new technologies come with risks.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on his twitter page that the Giga Berlin will initiate 3 of the company’s latest technologies, including the 4680 battery cell, structured battery, and the brand new baking paint technology, which will first be applied on Model Y.
Tesla had announced its new battery cell and the structured battery technology on Battery Day not long ago. According to the data of the company, the new 4680 battery cell will be able to provide five times the energy density that will elevate the driving range by 16% and achieve a sixfold increase in output.
The structured battery integrates battery with the vehicle body, where the front half and the rear half of Model Y will be formed with a one-piece casting method, and the battery cell is embedded directly into the structure of the vehicle body without additional connecting parts, thus preserving more space in the vehicle, or placing more batteries.
The latest baking painting technology is provided by Geico Taikisha, a traditional paint baking company for automobiles, who possesses the finest essence of Italian lineage and Japanese crafts technology. Multiple large machinery of Geico Taikisha has been stationed at Giga Berlin, and will be responsible for the smart painting procedure.
However, what is noteworthy is that Musk, who has always been confident, has been very cautious in his statement since the Battery Day. Musk commented on the day of the Battery Day that these new inventions are relatively difficult, and that even he isn’t 100% certain that they will succeed, not to mention the required amount of time and manpower.
In his tweet, Musk added “this much innovation comes with risks”, which is the reason that he did not incorporate new technologies into the US and Chinese factories.
The paint baking section contains the lowest degree of risk, where the biggest manufacturing risk is the unavoidable adjustment in the collaboration between Tesla’s own smart production system and third parties, and such run-in period may lead to a reduction in the quality of paint or production efficiency.
The second risk comes from the new 4680 battery cell, for which the manufacturing comprises of numerous new inventions, including the pressing method, winding method, material composition, and the recycling of byproducts (wastewater), which are results that have yet to be achieved by various major global battery suppliers, and whether Tesla is able to design a battery cell in merely a year that can be mass produced is a huge risk.
The third risk is derived from the structured battery. Numerous people have mentioned that the one-piece casing method for the vehicle body may lead to a substantial increase in the cost of maintenance, and the new European version of Model Y not only comes with a one-piece design for its front and rear part, but is also filled with batteries, thus the wisdom of Tesla will play a major role in whether this pristine process will bear fruit at the end. However, what Tesla is unable to control is, how will insurance providers regard such a vehicle?
Taking into account the numerous risks, Musk decided to commence testing at Giga Berlin that has yet to shoulder the responsibility of production capacity, and the company will incorporate these new technologies into the Gigafactories in China and the US after two years, should they pass the relevant tests.
Although Giga Berlin is considered as an excellent location for Tesla in testing new technologies, there are two major potential risks in the European market, one being that the EU has discovered that the electric vehicle market has given a window for US automotive manufacturers in counterattacking German automotive manufacturers, and will be exerting all strengths in suppressing Tesla if opportunities surface, and two being that the EU is extremely sensitive towards safety specifications, where any safety incidents on the new battery will be put under the microscope.
Poor testing results will significantly impact Tesla’s reputation and sales volume in the European market, which allows the eyeing ID.3 and ID.4 of Ford to reclaim their lost markets.
After seeing these few risks, it’s easy to understand as why someone as ambitious as Musk would put on a cautious tone when he commented that there will be “a lot of risks”.
(Cover photo source: Tesla)