Tesla’s latest service manual does reveal that Tesla’s structural battery pack is removable – something that was thought of as a problem due to the design.
It’s actually doable, but it is quite an ordeal.
When Tesla introduced its new 4680 battery cell at its Battery Day in 2020, it featured several major improvements on its own, but it also enabled this idea of a structural battery pack.
The idea was to make those new battery cells part of the structure of the new vehicles.
Inspired by the aerospace innovation of building airplane wings as fuel tanks instead of building the fuel tanks inside the wings, Tesla decided to build a battery pack that acts as a body structure, linking the front and rear underbody parts while the battery cells themselves contribute to the integral structure of the pack and therefore the whole car body.
The result is quite elegant:
They call it a “structural battery,” meaning that the battery is not just an energy device but an actual structural part of the vehicle.
It brought obvious advantages in terms of weight and simplicity of manufacturing. Tesla originally announced that the new design reduces overall vehicle mass by 10% and increases range by 14%.
But on the other hand, it did raise a few questions about what happens if you need a battery pack replacement since the pack is now part of the body.
Now that we have access to Tesla’s service manuals for the new Model Y with structural battery pack, we can actually see that the pack is removable and replaceable, but it is quite an ordeal.
According to the service manual (hat tip to Brian Krause for spotting it), it takes a total of 143 steps just to remove the structural battery pack.
I won’t go through all of them because it would take forever, but it involves basically removing a large part of the interior of the vehicle before actually starting to work on the pack.
Once removed, the vehicle looks fairly strange since it’s as if the whole floor is gone:
Then you have another 171 steps to put a new battery pack in there for a total of 314 steps to replace a structural battery pack.
Hopefully, it doesn’t have to be done too often.
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