A BYD executive revealed that the Chinese company is about to start supplying Tesla with battery cells.

In a new interview on a state-owned media channel in China this week, Lian Yubo, executive vice president and president of BYD’s automotive engineering research institute, was asked if he sees Tesla as competition.

He responded (via cnevpost):

Tesla is a very successful company no matter what, BYD respects Tesla and we admire Tesla. We are good friends with Elon Musk, and we will soon supply him with batteries. We are friends.

The comment comes after there were rumors that Tesla was testing BYD’s new “blade batteries” for a potential supply partnership last year.

In 2020, BYD, a China-based electric vehicle and battery company, introduced its new bladed battery cell.

The new cells use LFP chemistry, but the new form factor, which looks like a blade, is the real innovation enabling a safer cell and higher energy density at the pack level, according to the company.

BYD wrote in a press release:

While undergoing nail penetration tests, the Blade Battery emitted neither smoke nor fire after being penetrated, and its surface temperature only reached 30 to 60°C. Under the same conditions, a ternary lithium battery exceeded 500°C and violently burned, and while a conventional lithium iron phosphate block battery did not openly emit flames or smoke, its surface temperature reached dangerous temperatures of 200 to 400°C. This implies that EVs equipped with the Blade Battery would be far less susceptible to catching fire – even when they are severely damaged.

While this feature obviously offers great safety advantages, it also delivers thermal management improvements, and BYD claims the form factor enables energy density improvements by eliminating the need for modules.

It goes directly from cell to pack, not unlike Tesla’s structural battery pack technology.

When the report came out last year about Tesla testing the new cell from BYD, it stated that Tesla already had the cells in test vehicles and that it could start deliveries for production in the second quarter of 2022.

Electrek’s Take

This is surprising and not surprising at the same time.

Elon Musk has made fun of BYD in the past and it would be strange to see Tesla partner with them, but at the same time, the CEO said that Tesla would be buying any viable battery cell it can get its hands on.

Now the form factor is also radically different than the cylindrical battery cells that Tesla uses, but the automaker has also already moved to different cell formats for the vehicles it is building with LFP cells.

So this could really be happening, especially now that a high-level BYD executive is confirming it.

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