Tesla Using New 2170 Battery Cells To Power Model 3


This story about the Tesla Model 3 battery was originally published on EV Obsession

Until recently, Tesla has used 18650 lithium ion battery cells exclusively to power its two electric car models, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. The nomenclature means each cell is 18 millimeters in diameter and 65 millimeters in length — just slightly larger than a standard AA battery.

Basically, a lithium ion battery has three components — an anode where lithium ions collect during charging, a cathode that sends electrons to an electric motor, and a chemical soup in between that allows the ions to transfer back and forth between the two.

lithium ion battery

Model S and Model X Battery Configuration

In the company’s 85 and 90 kWh batteries, there are 16 battery packs containing 444 cells each. For its 100 kWh batteries, Tesla reconfigured the cooling system so it could fit 516 cells into each of the 16 packs for a total of 8,256 cells.

Although Tesla does not warranty its batteries against power degradation, real world driving experience indicates that the batteries lose no more than 2% of their capacity per year. That means the fears of Tesla owners when the cars first went on sale in 2012 that they might have to buy a new battery every 5 years or so were unfounded.


You can learn more about how a battery and a motor work together to power a Tesla automobile in the video below.

Model 3 Battery Is Different

Tesla is using a different battery cell for the the Model 3. Known as a 2170 cell, it is 21 millimeters in diameter by 70 millimeters in length. That makes is slightly larger than the 18650 cells used in the Model S and Model X, but size can be deceptive. The new cells are 46% larger in volume and about 15% more energy efficient than the 18650 cells, according to J. B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer.

Model 3 battery cell
Photo credit: DNK Power

The Model 3 will be available with either a 50 kWh or 75 kWh battery. The car with the smaller battery will have 220 miles of range while the car while the larger battery will travel 310 miles on a single battery charge. Not much is known at this time about how many battery packs the new car has or how many cells are in each pack.

Elon Musk has said previously that 75 kWh was the largest battery that will fit into the Model 3 chassis. Nevertheless, the EPA says that battery has a maximum of 80.5 kWh of energy and a 258 horsepower motor. The 75 kWh rating by the company may be the battery’s usable energy rather than its calculated theoretical maximum.

Tesla is only building a single motor car at the present time. The dual motor cars will not go into production until late this year or early in 2018 according to reports.

Is Tesla Battery Indestructible?

Some potential electric car buyers are concerned that the battery in their car may become a danger in a collision. The father and son team behind YouTube channel What’s Inside bought a battery pack from a wrecked Tesla and put it through a torture test. They threw it off the roof — twice. They ripped it apart, then hacked some of the cells to pieces with an ax.

Both survived their deliberate misadventures. If the Tesla battery can survive this rough treatment, it can survive almost anything.

Source: EVAnnex

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • MikeM


    18 millimeters in diameter and 65 millimeters in length !!

    • Rick Danger

      “85mm in diameter and 65mm in length.”

      Ahh… the new Sterno Battery! 🙂

      • Steve Hanley

        Ummm…..my fingers kept typing while my brain was taking a break. But give me some credit. At least I had one digit correct!

        • Rick Danger


  • Ira Catana

    I love Tesla so much, but just a minute ago I read at RepoKar that Tesla is developing an electric semi-truck that can drive itself, and now this article. Everyone is talking about Tesla only nowadays 😀

    • Steve Hanley

      Especially in the boardrooms of its competitors!

      • BlackTalon53 .

        BMW uses pictures of Elon Musk to scare their employees into making EVs. I found that hilarious.

  • Ed

    An 80.5 kWh battery pack that is sold based on 310 miles of range gives Tesla a bit of flexibility. But charging only to about 75 kWh maximum, the charging would take place quicker, and as the battery degrades, it could be five years before any loss of range would be seen. After that, losses would be only about 1% per year. If Tesla did something similar with the 100 kWh battery pack in the S and X, the benefits might looks like this. The 2170 cell should make this kind of strategy easily possible. Faster charging and less apparent battery degradation. What’s not to like?! Obviously, driving down the cost of the 2170 is the key.


    • Steve Hanley

      Cool beans, Ed. Thanks for sharing.

    • bioburner

      The same strategy the GM has been using for many years with their Volt batteries.

      • Ed

        I think that is correct….although as battery storage fade, you don’t notice it on the Volt! Is GM down this on the Bolt, too? Any data on how quickly the LG batteries fade with life?

        • bioburner

          There is a guy in Ohio with almost 400,000 miles on his 2012 Volt. I seem to remember he claimed no capacity loss. Granted he has only 140,000 EV miles but still durability of his battery is outstanding. I’m thinking the best word to describe that battery is “Overkill”.
          The bolt has not been out long enough to get any useful data. We can recheck this issue in a few years.

          • Ed

            Roger that.
            Everyone is learning….at an horrific pace!!