After months of searching and discussing with a number of different battery suppliers, we have finally found the supplier we are looking for!
For several months now we have been talking to a number of different suppliers of our target battery, the 18650 Lithium-Ion based cell. We spoke with wholesalers, distributors, and even directly to several manufacturers, but in most cases ran into a common challenge: As a startup, we simply weren’t able to get them to commit to large volume pricing. We have more than 1 mWh of batteries required to meet our current deposit holders on our pre-order waiting list. We were getting quotes that aligned with 10s or 100s of kWh in volume, which were good, but not good enough.
Even though we have more than 400 reservations, we’re intending to serve several thousand new Leaf customers each year and many more customers with non-Leaf EVs in the years that follow. It is core to our values to make our product affordable, our primary driver for entering into the EV market was that the high cost of batteries creates most of the market’s adoption barriers. Expensive batteries make the cars expensive, they make servicing the car expensive, and the high cost of replacing batteries makes used EVs lose value quickly. So if we want to stay true to our values, we need to ensure our battery supplier understands that we need to get to volume production very quickly, and that means volume pricing.
We had also considered finding a supplier that can deliver quality cells in the 2170 (sometimes referred to as 21700) cell packaging. However, we were having a difficult time finding a supplier in that size that was a brand name our customers could trust. And for the last several months we had largely shelved the idea that we could use a 2170 cell in our battery modules.
But why did we want the 2170 to begin with? A quick look at Tesla’s choice to move to this size can answer that. By shifting to 2170 in the Model 3 from the 18650 in the S and X, Tesla was able to deliver a 50% improvement in energy density and a large reduction in the number of individual cells in the car. In short, you get more storage for less cost, size, and weight. The math is hard to ignore. But until recently Tesla was the only big brand manufacturing sufficient volume of these cells, and we’re not a big enough company for Tesla to consider being our supplier. So the search continued…
Until this week! We now have entered into an agreement with a supplier of 2170 cells manufactured by a true name-brand and with more than enough volume to achieve our next several year’s production goals! Not only are we able to get these elusive 2170 cells, but we’re getting them at a price that’s similar to what some other suppliers were quoting for 18650s! And even better, they will assemble, wrap and wire the cells into the arrangement we specify for our custom modules, so they are also a contract manufacturer for our battery assembly now as well! Two suppliers in one! All of us at Fēnix Power are walking on air this weekend, this is a HUGE win for us, and for our customers.
So what does this really mean for our customers and our products? First, it means we will be able to deliver more for less. We’re now re-evaluating our pricing model to determine if we can adjust our predictions for the monthly subscription costs. And second, it means we will be able to get more energy storage into the same space. For customers interested in expanding their Leaf’s capacity, we can’t tell you specifically how much more yet, we’re going to save that news for an announcement later. But what we can say is this: We had planned on trying to get to 40kWh in the stock battery location, but preliminary designs were only reaching about 39kWh. Well, now we can confidently state that 40kWh is easy to achieve, very easy. We can’t wait to share more, so for now, here are some cell specs for those that find such details important:
Size: 21mm x 70mm (970 cubic mm)
Weight: 69 grams (0.069 Kg)
4.8Ah (4800 mAh)
Energy Density: 268 Wh/Kg
*Image for 18650 v 2170 size reference, not our actual cells