The US market will just have to wait for certain Tesla Model Y features.
With the US serving as both the birthplace and the primary market for Tesla vehicles, you might expect that that market would be the first to receive any major step changes in the company's EV technologies.
You would be wrong.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter recently to announce that the company's Giga Berlin factory in Germany would be the first to roll out some major updates to the affordable Tesla Model Y crossover, including a new-and-improved factory paint system, new single-piece front and rear castings for the vehicle frame, and a radically new, larger battery cell form factor.
Those larger battery cells, designated 4680, represent a substantial breakthrough for the Palo Alto-based EV manufacturer. They're significantly easier to package more tightly, which means greater energy density per volume and, consequently, a lighter-weight, higher-capacity battery pack than what can currently be accomplished with Tesla's existing 2170 cells.
Those cells, along with the new paint system and single-piece frame castings, "means significant production risk," Musk said on Twitter. "Fremont and Shanghai will transition in ~2 years when new tech is proven." In other words, should the new technologies create significant issues for Giga Berlin, rendering it unable to produce cars while the kinks are ironed out, Tesla would like to be able to lean on its established factories in the US and China to maintain production flow.
It's not a bad strategy, although we have to wonder how it will be received by Tesla fans here in the US who continue to defend the company against attacks despite some well-documented quality control issues. The Tesla Model 3 in particular has had a tough relationship with paint; the car consistently seems to want to shed its coat, especially along the rocker panels and the bottoms of the doors.
And of course, the "early adopter" crowd here in the US would surely love to be among the first to get their hands on Tesla's new 4680 battery cells, for bragging rights if nothing else. We guess they'll just have to wait.