March 27, 2023

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Tesla confirms switching to a 48-volt system

Tesla confirms switching to a 48-volt system

Tesla Cybertruck will get it first.

Tesla is going ahead with implementing improvements to the low-voltage system for its electric cars, which until now have operated at roughly the same 12 volts as the vast majority of other cars.

During the recent Investor Day 2023, Tesla representatives confirmed their intention to introduce the 48V system, which despite its many years, is still a rare solution in the auto industry.

Tesla’s first step was the switch from 12V auxiliary lead-acid batteries to 12V auxiliary lithium-ion batteries, announced in February 2021, and initially launched in the updated Tesla Model S / Model X (starting with Plaid) – see In – depth disassembly here – and later also used on Model 3 / Model Y (late 2021).

According to Tesla, lead-acid batteries were a major source of failure in Tesla cars, and needed to be replaced approximately every four years. New lithium-ion batteries are expected to last the life of the vehicle (just like a main traction battery), so there will never be a need to replace them.

This is a definite improvement, led by a smaller size and lower weight (an 87 percent reduction).

Tesla says that starting with the Cybertruck (this year), the Optiums robot, and all future electric vehicles, the 48V low-voltage system will be used.

For reference, the auto industry went from 6V to 12V in the 1960s (smaller cars today may still use 6V, while larger vehicles use 24V).

Tesla will use the 48V system because it will reduce current by four times compared to 12V systems. This voltage level is still considered safe.

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An increase in voltage is essential as the power demand of on-board electrical devices increases steadily and at 12V, wires become thick, heavy, and expensive.

With a 48 volt system, there will be significant savings in weight and cost, while at the same time, efficiency may increase.

This is a really interesting change, which would also require an additional 48V lithium-ion battery – in Tesla’s case, it might be produced in-house (we don’t know yet).