Tesla Battery Day: cheaper electric car on the way

Elon Musk has revealed initial plans for a more affordable Tesla electric car, as well as new battery technology for greater range

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The much-discussed Tesla Battery Day 2020 took place on 22 September, with CEO Elon Musk revealing plans for a more affordable electric model from the company, plus revolutionary battery technology that he claims will provide five times more energy, six times more power and 16% greater driving range than before.

Musk said that it “has always been our dream to make an affordable electric car”, although he admitted such a model is still around three years away. A $25,000 (£19,700) starting price was touted, which would undercut the expected cheapest versions of mainstream electric cars like the Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback.

Elsewhere, Musk says Tesla’s new cylindrical battery technology would form part of the structure of the vehicle, thereby reducing weight and improving efficiency. In doing so, there’s a chance Tesla would eventually ditch external suppliers such as Panasonic and LG and start making batteries itself. It’s thought such a system will take several years to implement.

Musk previously announced the "Tesla Shareholder Meeting & Battery Day" would take place on 15 September 2020. His Tweet on 22 June warned the date was "tentative", with the event subsequently pushed back to 22 September.

The initial announcement came just a week after the firm revealed that all of its Model S Long Range Plus cars built from 15 June 2020 will come with a number of upgrades that help them achieve an official range of 402 miles – as measured using the American EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) test procedure. There's no news of this revised model coming to the UK yet, but its official range here will be calculated using the global WLTP standard, and so may fall a bit short of the headline 400-mile mark.

Further to a cheaper Tesla model and the new battery technology, Musk formally announced the range-topping Model S Plaid at the Battery Day event. Featuring three electric motors, the flagship model is claimed to do 0-60mph in less than two seconds, hit 200mph and return a range of more than 500 miles on a charge.

Rather than being an over-the-air update for existing cars, both the Model S Long Range Plus and Model S Plaid get physical upgrades under the metal. Tesla says that lessons learned from the production of its Model 3 and Model Y have been applied to the Model S' construction to save weight, including a standardised production process for the seats and the use of lightweight materials in its battery and electric motors.

New aerodynamic alloy wheels for the Long Range Plus model cut drag and, Tesla says, accounting for a 2% improvement in range; the car's electric motors have had their internals revised and the existing mechanical oil pump changed for an electric one, with updates to the gearbox also added. 

The Model S Long Range Plus also gets Tesla's 'HOLD' system, which increases the amount of regenerative braking by blending in some physical braking, too. This system has been adjusted to work at a lower speed, sending more power to the battery, Tesla claims.

Alongside its Model S Long Range Plus announcement, Tesla revealed that its network of Superchargers now spans over 17,000 units worldwide.