Tesla has filed with the Chinese government for approval to sell a new version of the Model 3 with cheaper lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.
Early on, Tesla adopted its own version of the energy-dense NCA battery cell for its electric vehicles, which went against most of the industry who uses NCM cells.
There have been reports stating that Tesla is switching to NCM battery cells for its Chinese Model 3 vehicles built at Gigafactory Shanghai.
The vehicles built in Shanghai are Tesla’s first without Panasonic-made battery cells in them.
Tesla contracted LG Chem and CATL to make the batteries for the vehicles being built at its new factory.
Earlier this year, we’ve learned that they might even use CATL’s lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which is much less popular in the auto industry and mainly used in some Chinese electric vehicles due its lower-energy density and lower cost.
Now Tesla has applied for with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for approval of a new Model 3 equipped with LFP batteries in the latest batch of vehicles published in the Ministry’s Road Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Enterprises and Products:
Based on the filing, the specs of the Model 3 haven’t changed with the new LFP batteries.
One advantage of LFP batteries is that they don’t use cobalt, which is an expensive and sometimes controversial mineral.
Tesla has talked about phasing out cobalt in its batteries in the past, and its NCA battery cells already use less cobalt than most other cells of similar chemistry.
The main disadvantage of LFP batteries is their lower-energy density, but CATL, which is believed to be Tesla’s supplier, has made improvements in LFP energy density and longevity.
LFP batteries are also said to be safer if a problem was to occur. They don’t burn as fast as some other Li-ion battery chemistries.
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