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Saturday, September 23, 2017

2017 is the Year of the 2170

The year is 2017. Jumble the digits a little and you can arrange them into 2170.
Tesla started mass production of their 2170 form factor battery cells on January 4th, 2017. These cells were first used in Tesla's Powerpack and Powerwall energy storage products.

In July, Tesla handed over the keys (or key card) to the owners of the first Model 3s. Like the Powerwall, these cars were powered by 2170 cells.

The 2170 cells are so named because they have a 21mm diameter and a height of 70mm. The cells are produced at Gigafactory 1 near Reno, Nevada. By 2018, this one Gigafactory is expected to produce 35 GWh/year of lithium-ion cells annually, about twice global production today.


Tesla started their business with the idea of using commodity battery cells. They used the 18650 cell; it was popular in portable electronics and the form factor to receive chemistry improvement faster than others. They used these in their Roadster, as well as their Model S and Model X.

For Model 3, Tesla went back to the drawing board. Previously they used the 18650 because it was the best option available. Now that they were going to be making the cells themselves (along with their partner Panasonic), they could make them however they'd like. Nissan, GM, and others are using pouch cell form factors. Tesla, however, stuck with the "jelly roll" tucked in a cylindrical cell. Tesla CTO, JB Straubel, said that the 2170 cells were designed to be the optimal in size and energy density for electric vehicles, balancing energy storage with an external surface area for cooling. Elon Musk had a similar statement about rethinking the battery from “first principles of physics and economics.”

Tesla is poised to disrupt both the energy market and the transportation market with their 2170 cells and it started this year in 2017 with the production of the first cells.