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Elon Musk pegs Cybertruck launch for September with cheaper 4680 battery via Tesla lithium refinery in Texas

Tesla will make its own Cybertruck battery materials (image: Peterson Museum)
Tesla will make its own Cybertruck battery materials (image: Peterson Museum)
Falling lithium prices may translate into lower Cybertruck price when it launches in September indeed. Tesla confirmed it will decrease the production cost of the Cybertruck's 4680 battery by building its own lithium refinery on the Gulf Coast, as well as its own cathode facility at Giga Austin.

During its Q1 earnings call, Tesla largely confirmed that the Cybertruck will be powered by a 4680 battery pack, and said it will make the cells cheaper by breaking ground on a lithium and cathode refineries, both in Texas.

Just as expected, falling lithium prices may reflect into lower Cybertruck price indeed, as Elon Musk said that the drastic decline of lithium will be better reflected in production costs after Q2. The first "great" Cybertruck delivery event is "probably" expected in Q3, he added, which could be any time from here until October. Indeed, when asked about the Cybertruck price, Elon Musk seemingly confirmed a September launch by saying that "we'll save that for the Cybertruck handover, which will hopefully be around the end of Q3 this year."

The gold quote that seemingly confirms the rumor that the Cybertruck will have a 4680 battery, like the structural pack on the Texas-made Model Y, came from Tesla's Andrew Baglino, its SVP of Powertrain and Energy Engineering.

Altogether, the team accomplished a 25% reduction in COGS over the quarter, and we are on track to achieve steady-state cost targets over the next 12 months. And going forward for the rest of the year, the priority, one, is yielding cost for the 4680 program as we steadily ramp production ahead of Cybertruck next year.

Making 4680 batteries 25% cheaper is no small feat to achieve in the span of a quarter, but Tesla is not done working towards the promises it made on Battery Day. It is actually breaking ground on the rumored lithium refinery in Corpus Christi next month and expects battery-grade material from it by the end of the year.

Elon Musk is on record saying that refining lithium is a "license to print money" and, instead of waiting for other companies to do it, Tesla will go and do it itself. With the 75% drop in the price of lithium, and the new cathode facilities in Giga Austin that are halfway built, Tesla expects to be the producer of the cheapest 4680 batteries indeed, which bodes well for the Cybertruck's pricing.

"But just on the lithium front, to emphasize, the choke point is much more on refining capacity than it is on mining," explained Elon Musk, adding that the "same question also extends to refining of the cathode and to some degree, refining of the anode... this is why we, at Tesla, we're building our lithium refinery capability at Corpus Christi and our cathode refinery outside Austin."

Not only that, but the cathode production line will be commissioned for both the current wet, and the coveted dry production method. If applied at scale, the dry cathode production could ultimately cut the price of a 4680 battery pack to the promised 50% mark compared to regular batteries.

Perhaps this is why Tesla hinted that it is not done with cutting the prices of its electric vehicles, and announced that it will be going for market share instead of profit margins for the foreseeable future. The drop in margins that this price war brought is sinking Tesla's stock today, but Elon Musk seems determined to grab as much market share as he can while keeping production costs in check.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2023 04 > Elon Musk pegs Cybertruck launch for September with cheaper 4680 battery via Tesla lithium refinery in Texas
Daniel Zlatev, 2023-04-20 (Update: 2023-04-20)