And it's not the body panels...
It's looking increasingly likely that Tesla is facing serious trouble with the production of its recently announced Cybertruck — and we're not talking about the pickup's highly unusual bulletproof stainless steel exoskeleton or massive glass panels.
As Tesla insiders told Reuters, the EV maker's main bottleneck when it comes to building the Cybertruck is actually producing the vehicle's next-generation 4680 lithium-ion battery cells, roughly 1,360 of which are needed for each Cybertruck.
Tesla is trying out an entirely new approach to producing the cells that relies on dry-coating electrodes, a process that's technically faster and cheaper — at least on paper.
But there's one big problem: Tesla apparently has yet to figure out how to scale up the process enough to power entire cars with them.
While dry coating anodes and cathodes is a proven way to build small energy storage devices, it has yet to be done for EVs on a "mass scale and at a high enough speed," as battery technology consultant Yuan Gao told Reuters. "Tesla is the first one to try to commercialize this."
If Tesla wants to produce 250,000 Cybertrucks, it would need to produce almost one million 4680 cells a day. According to the report, Tesla's Giga Texas factory is only producing them at a rate that's sufficient for 24,000 Cybertrucks a year right now.
One insider, however, was optimistic, telling Reuters that if Tesla were to "crack the code," the "speed would pick up" and that "there is already a lot of traction in dry coating."
And it's not just battery cells that are adding to Tesla's Cybertruck woes. Bending the thick stainless steel panels that clad the massive pickup has also proven challenging.
It's also strikingly unclear how many Cybertrucks have already been delivered so far. Last month, reports suggest the company only managed to hand over roughly a dozen or so trucks following the company's chaotic delivery event.
And getting that number to grow any time soon — Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggests production volume will only happen in 2025 — will be a gargantuan task.
At this point, that shouldn't be anything new for the car company. Musk has become intimately familiar with production hell at Tesla over the years.
"We dug our own grave with the Cybertruck," Musk said during Tesla's Q3 quarterly earnings call earlier this year. "I do want to emphasize that there will be enormous challenges in reaching volume production with the Cybertruck and then making the Cybertruck cashflow positive."
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