Samsung SDI goes to Frankfurt and winks at Tesla

Samsung SDI at Frankfurt Motor Show 2017

Usually when Samsung SDI goes to auto shows and advertise its battery cells, good information is unveiled. Previously, some of this information has helped to predict future battery upgrades for BMW and Volkswagen plug-in cars.

However, at the ongoing Frankfurt Motor Show 2017, Samsung SDI didn’t let any information slide about battery capacity. Yet, it doesn’t mean that nothing has changed.

Samsung SDI’s current biggest customers are BMW and Volkswagen that use its prismatic battery cells, and for this reason, the focus of this battery cell maker has been to improve and advertise this type of cells. However, you should never put all the eggs in the same basket…


To diversify its offer, Samsung SDI is trying to attract new customers for its cylindrical 21700 battery cells, as the press release below reveals:

“Samsung SDI also displayed cells and modules based on the new 21700 standard of cylindrical battery. A ‘21700’ battery is 21 millimeters in diameter and 70 millimeters in height. Its capacity is 50 percent bigger than the existing 18650 battery (18 millimeters in diameter and 65 millimeters in height). Its size is optimal for maximizing capacity, life and output simultaneously. The new battery beats batteries of any other size in light of cost competitiveness. A 21700 battery draws attention from major global manufacturers as the next-generation standard which can be applied to all sorts of products including electric vehicles, ESS and electric tools.”


It’s no secret that no one uses more 21700 cylindrical battery cells than Tesla, which is exactly the most desired customer for any serious battery cell maker. So let’s see what Tesla could accomplish with what Samsung SDI has to offer…


Currently Samsung SDI has the Samsung INR21700-48G battery cell. The “INR” code means that the cathode is NMC (nickel, manganese and cobalt), the “21700” code refers to the dimensions and shape (21 mm in diameter, 70 mm long and the final “0” means it’s cylindrical), finally the “48” part tells the maximum capacity (4,8 Ah, but consider 4,75 Ah to be nominal). By the way, Tesla dropped the “0” and just calls these cells 2170.


Samsung SDI 21700 battery cell specs


Fred Lambert from Electrek already provided great information about the Tesla Model 3 battery packs. The battery pack of the standard version has 2.976 cells, while the longer range version has 4.416 cells.

Let’s see what we get with 4,75 Ah battery cells from Samsung SDI.


Standard range version battery pack

Capacity: 2.976 x 3,6 V x 4,75 Ah = 50,89 kWh

Max. discharge power: 2.976 x 3,6 V x 9 A = 96,42 kW

Weight (cells only): 2.976 x 0,075 kg = 223,2 kg


Long range version battery pack

Capacity: 4.416 x 3,6 V x 4,75 Ah = 75,51 kWh

Max. discharge power: 4.416 x 3,6 V x 9 A = 143,08 kW

Weight (cells only): 4.416 x 0,075 kg = 331,2 kg


As you can see these Samsung INR21700-48G battery cells would fit perfectly in a Tesla Model 3, the only part that doesn’t look great it’s the maximum discharge power, but that can be easily improved with the TMS (Thermal Management System) that is already used in Tesla cars.

Furthermore, these 21700 cylindrical battery cells from Samsung SDI can also be used for ESS (Energy Storage Systems), therefore great candidates for Tesla Powerwall.


To sum up, while Tesla chose Panasonic as its partner for the Gigafactory 1 in the USA, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla adds to its list of partners the South Korean cell makers – LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK innovation – to build more Gigafactories around the world… In fact, I don’t think that Tesla can rely in its partnership with Panasonic alone to build all the Gigafactories that it needs to mass produce the Model 3, Model Y and Powerwall.

With LG Chem and Samsung SDI already present in Europe, USA, South Korea and China, they are great candidates to help Tesla build more Gigafactories. Relying only in Panasonic is exactly what putting all eggs in one basket means, I hope that Tesla understands it and expands its partners list.


What do you think? Can Tesla rely in Panasonic alone, or are future partnerships with other battery cell makers inevitable?!



More info:

Tesla Model 3: Exclusive first look at Tesla’s new battery pack architecture

Pedro Lima

My interest in electric transportation is mostly political. I’m tired of coups and wars for oil. My expectation is that the adoption of electric transportation will be a factor for peace and democracy all over the world.

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4 years ago

In future batteries should be nothing but a commodity so likely all auto makers will use a mix of all as nowadays with tires.

Jonas Jovial
4 years ago

Hmm..Samsung? Only if we are expecting blowing Teslas, like a Samsung Note… lol

4 years ago

Hi Pedro,

another great article! I have luck to see the tentative datasheet for this 48G cell which leaked to the net and 9,6A (2C) value is continuous discharge current. And of course like many others it can do much more in pulse discharge. For this cell it is up to 35A for 10sec which is enough time for acceleration.

4 years ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

You are right we need some test. By the way I think that 30T in not much older than 48G. The 30T cell was just much sooner available on the retail market. Also I think that 30T uses High Power cell structure and the 48G is High Energy structure cell. So it is not fair to compare them in terms of power output. I believe that 48G can work very well in BEV with high capacity battery like TM3, because average load will be lower than 0,5C and it can easily handle the short curent/power peaks for acceleration.

4 years ago

Samsung is already a partner for Tesla ESS. The cars from Tesla will use Panasonic/Tesla batteries.

Dmitry Pelegov
4 years ago

Thank you Eric for information.

About switching to Tesla/Samsung SDI gigafactory. What for? In China we can keep in mind new Panasonic Dalian plant – for start of China breakthrough it is enough. In Europe both LG Chem and Samsung SDI already started building their plant (LG almost finished). Panasonic has not, so we can supposed that, Panasonic is very interested to start Panasonic/Tesla project in Europe. Second plant in USA? Who knows…

Franz Klinger
4 years ago

Maybe You can continue calculating:
When Kreisel Electric offer batteries with high energy density
800 Wh/L cells for current electric cars.

This is what will happen:

Nissan Leaf = 60,6 kWh
Renault Zoe = 75,6 kWh

Tesla Mod S = ? ?

Did you already do the math?