Are The Tesla Pickup & Semi Truck Waiting For Maxwell Batteries?

It makes sense, but we still don’t know precisely what to expect from Maxwell

We think so, but it all assumes that the Maxwell battery will actually happen and doesn’t end up like so many battery promises — in the trash can. We are not the only ones that think the Maxwell battery will happen. Electrek also believes that Tesla will start its own line of Tesla Maxwell batteries (ref).

Many people are under the misconception that the Maxwell battery is some fancy new dry battery with new trick high-energy electrodes, when in fact it is not (ref). The Maxwell battery is all about a manufacturing process. It can be used with existing chemistries like NMC and NCA. The new manufacturing process just allows Tesla/Maxwell to eliminate the time-consuming manufacturing process and expensive machinery associated with using a solvent-based electrode coating machine.

Maxwell’s process is about production rate and lower-costs for putting in the line. Since it does not rely on some new magic electrode chemistry, it seems much more likely to happen. Other companies are looking at this process as well (ref).

We have gone further to speculate that the new coating process will allow thicker electrodes (ref) and thereby provide higher energy density using the same NCA electrode chemistry. We also speculated that Tesla might use a larger format battery in the truck line and for Power Packs to provide further cost reduction. In retrospect though, Tesla likes commonality, so this larger format cell seems unlikely.

The Tesla pickup truck and the Tesla Semi are the most obvious products for the Maxwell battery because those two vehicles have such large batteries. Keith Ritter did an analysis of the Tesla Semi cost. In that article, we showed that at $140 per kilowatt-hour for a 900-kWh battery pack the long-range Tesla Semi would be cost-prohibitive from a battery point of view (ref).

The pickup truck is just as obvious. It seems likely that the battery and the pickup truck will be at least as large as the Rivian pickup truck which is 200 kilowatt. Our analysis of the Tesla pickup truck predicted a 200-kWh battery size as well (ref).

So, in order to make the pickup truck affordable, it seems Tesla would need a fairly large reduction in battery cost. A simple way to look at it would be that if you want the pickup to sell at the same price as the Model S, then you need to be able to supply a battery that is 200 kilowatt-hours in size for the price of the 100-kilowatt-hour battery in the Model S.

It is our opinion that the semi and the pickup truck are both waiting for lower-cost batteries and that the Maxwell battery line is not so far off and such pie-in-the-sky as some people think.
What do you think? Let us know in the comment section.

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