New Tesla Model Y structural 4680 cell pack spells the end of cheap electric car battery repairs
Recently, Tesla started churning out Model Y vehicles with a structural battery pack made entirely of the new 4680 cells that offer much higher capacity than the older batteries it uses. The cell-to-pack technology seals the 4680 cells directly inside the battery housing that is an integral part of the vehicle's chassis, saving space and weight in the process.
The bad news is that the Model Y's structural battery pack is impossible to open and repair down to the single 4680 battery cells as many independent shops have been doing with the batteries of electric or hybrid cars for a good while now. This way they could only replace bad battery units, instead of going to Tesla and buying a new and very expensive pack as is the EV maker's modus operandi when it comes to battery repairs.
This fun time of cheap electric car battery repairs may be coming to an end once the 4680 structural battery packs start rolling out en masse, reports the crafty disassembly team of Munro & Associates. After trying for a while to crack open a Model Y 4680 battery pack, they ultimately succeeded only to find copious amount of tough pink polyurethane gluing everything together in one very hard to damage, but also to repair, form.
"The repairability of this [Model Y 4680 battery pack] is essentially zero," quipped Cory from Munro & Associates, as it took his experienced team two days to simply access the inside of the battery which Tesla showed a cutout of during the Texas Cyber Rodeo. While every EV battery repair involves precautions necessitated by the high voltage of the packs, the delay here was also due to the fact that the new EV battery cell-to-chassis designs are an integral part of the vehicle's body structure.
While removing the battery was fairly easy for Cory's team, despite the 143 steps it involves in Tesla's service manual, opening the structural pack proved much harder, while reaching an individual 4680 cell floating in a sea of hard polyurethane was near impossible. This may also sound like a recipe for a recyclability disaster, yet Elon Musk clarified in a tweet that recycling Tesla's new structural 4680 battery packs won't be an issue.
No problem to recycle the 4680 pack. Just think of any battery pack as super high grade ore – it is always better to start with high grade ore than low grade!— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2022