Is there anything more important to an electric vehicle (EV) company than the type of batteries that power its cars? For Tesla, nothing has spared nothing to ensure the batteries inside each of its models are the best fit. As a result, many of Tesla’s models use different types of batteries. So, with this in mind, what’s the difference between two of its most reliable types: 2170 vs 4680 batteries?

Let’s make a full comparison below to come up with a good answer. After comparing and contrasting the two, we’ll place their specs side by side to get an even clearer picture of what distinguishes 2170 vs 4680. Then we’ll look at some facts and the history of the two battery types. Ultimately, these considerations will help clear the differences between the two batteries.

2170 vs 4680: Side by Side Comparison

a pair of 2170 batteries on a light blue background
 2170 battery-type cells are widely used in dual-motor Tesla Model 3 and Y vehicles.
2170 Battery4680 Battery
Models Using the BatteryModel 3, Model YModel Y (Texas-made)
Type of Batterylithium-ionlithium-ion
Weight of Battery68g355g
Size of Battery21mm x 70mm46mm x 80mm
Battery SupplierPanasonicTesla, Panasonic
mAh Per Cell4800 mAh9000 mAh
Nominal Voltage3.7V3.6V
Max Charge4.2V4.2V
Low Discharge2.5V2.8V

2170 vs 4680: Key Differences

Size and power

Looking beyond this obvious similarity, you start to notice the sheer number of differences between 2170 vs 4680 batteries. The 4680 is heavier, larger, and has more mAh per cell than 2170. Comparatively, 2170 has a higher nominal voltage but a lower discharge than 3680.

Usage

Moreover, 2170 has been used in the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model Y, while the 4680 has only powered the Tesla Model Ys built in Texas.

Production

Whereas 2170 is supplied to Tesla by Panasonic, the 4680 is built in-house at Tesla, and will soon be supplied by Panasonic, pending approval. However, on a purely aesthetic level, 2170 has tabs while 4680 is tabless.

2170 vs 4680: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • The Tesla 2170 and the Tesla 4680 are either currently or slated to be manufactured by Panasonic at Tesla Gigafactories.
  • While the 2170 and 4680 batteries are not exclusive concepts to Tesla, the ever-popular EV manufacturer still has its proprietary versions of said batteries that are exclusive to them alone.
  • While the Tesla 4680 is larger in size and weight than the Tesla 2170 battery, both still have the same maximum charge.
  • The 2170 and the 4680 are only two of the battery types Tesla relies on. The other two are the 18650 and the prismatic-type battery.
  • In the future, Tesla hopes to rely entirely on the 4680 battery across all models.

2170 vs 4680: What are the Similarities?

First and foremost, it’s worth noting that the 2170 and 4680 batteries have the same basic chemistry. Interesting to note is the fact that both batteries have a maximum charge of 4.2V. Despite their size, weight, supplier, and voltage differences, they share this one major factor in common. This helps shine a light on the heart of the battery debate. At the end of the day, both the 2170 and the 4680 have the same function: power Teslas.

History of Tesla 2170 Battery

2170 battery is not exclusive to Tesla EVs. The 2170 — sometimes also seen as 21700 — is simply a categorization of batteries like AA, AAA, D, and the like. With that in mind, Tesla uses a special kind of 2170 made especially for their EVs by Panasonic. These special 2170s can be found in both the Model 3 and the Model Ys made before production of the model moved to Texas.

Since entering into production on the Tesla 2170 battery in 2017, Panasonic has kept many of the finer details (beyond the specs listed above) a secret. That’s because these special Panasonic 2170s are made especially for Tesla and nobody else. As such, neither Tesla nor Panasonic would want to reveal too much about the battery in hopes of preventing any unnecessary competition.

In 2018, Tesla revealed some key details about the history of 2170 that was quite illuminating. Manufactured by Panasonic at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, the Tesla 2170 batteries were reportedly the highest energy density cells used in any EV at the time of their inception. Tesla and Panasonic created the special chemistry of the battery by cutting back on the amount of cobalt and increasing the amount of nickel per battery pack (all while maintaining peak thermal stability). Tesla and Panasonic claim that the 2170’s cobalt content is less than any other battery manufacturer’s cells.

Origins of the 4680 Battery

tesla 4680 cylindrical batteries on a blue background
4680 battery cells have five times more energy and six times the power of the smaller 2170. 

4680’s history is much less mysterious. Unveiled in 2020 at Tesla‘s annual Battery Day event, these particular Tesla batteries are more powerful tabless alternative to the earlier EV batteries from Tesla.

The Tesla 4680s is expected to increase the range of Tesla EVs by as much as 54%. What’s more is that these batteries will reduce the total weight of EVs. This, paired with the sheer amount of mAh in the 4680s, will boost acceleration while reducing costs and increasing sustainability. In short, the 4680 was designed with power, precision, profit, and the planet in mind.

While the 4680s have yet to be rolled out across the full line of Tesla EVs as initially planned, they have begun to hit the streets in small numbers in Model Ys assembled at the Texas Gigafactory. Initial impressions have been nothing short of remarkable. Drivers lucky enough to get their hands on the wheel of a 4680-equipped Model Y have praised the charging speed, the vehicle’s acceleration, and the maximum distance they can get per charge.

2170

ProsCons
smaller and lighter than the 4680s More expensive than the 4680s
Readily available in the marketLess sustainable than the 4680s
Reliable and dependable batteries

4680

ProsCons
New batteries will change Tesla EVs for the betterYet to be rolled out
Powerful and reliable enough to be used on the entire Tesla EV lineupA lot of unknowns
Less cobalt reduces the risk of combusting

2170 vs 4680: Which Is the Better Battery?

When all is said and done, the differences between the Tesla 2170 vs 4680 are quite clear. The 2170 batteries are older, more expensive, riskier, and less efficient than the 4680s. And while the 4680s are still somewhat of a mystery, the Tesla 2170s will likely give way to the 4680-equipped Model Ys very soon.

Ultimately, the 4680 is a truly remarkable battery. Once rolled out across Tesla’s full line of EVs, it has the potential to elevate Tesla. However, this is not to say that the 2170s are somewhat inferior to the 4680s. Going from the 2170s to the 4680s is just a natural progression. Both batteries have similar chemistry but are different in aesthetics and performance.

Tesla’s 2170 vs 4680 Batteries: What’s The Difference? FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Which Tesla battery is bigger, the 2170 or the 4680?

The 4680 is much bigger and much heavier than the 2170. However, less 4680s are needed in each vehicle, making 4680-equipped Teslas lighter than 2170-equipped ones.

Which Tesla battery charges faster, the 2170 or the 4680?

The Tesla 4680 charges much faster than the 2170, though exactly how much faster will remain to be seen until more are on the streets and put to the test.

Which Teslas have 2170 batteries?

Currently, the 2170 is used in Model 3s and all Model Ys built before production shifted to Texas.

Which Teslas have 4680 batteries?

As of this writing, the only Teslas to use the 4680s are Model Ys built at the Gigafactory in Texas.

When was the Tesla 4680 announced?

The Tesla 4680 was announced at the Battery Day 2020 event on September 22nd of that year.

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