Tesla has not yet officially commented on this, but the sparrows are already whistling off the roof that the Model 3 in the standard range plus (SR +) variant will soon be produced in China with a cheaper and cobalt-free battery from the local partner CATL. According to reports on Twitter, this version has now been added to the official auto list of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, so that the Model 3 with LFP battery will soon roll off the tapes of the Gigafactory in Shanghai. A detail in the list also suggests that the cheapest Tesla could get a significant increase in range.
Tesla Model 3 with LFP heavier
At least from the information published on Twitter and in an article about the latest Tesla Model 3, not all data can be found. But it does contain the weight, which is interesting. For the version with LFP battery from CATL it is given as 1745 kilograms; that’s 131 kilograms more than the previous Model 3 SR + from China, which was produced with NMC batteries from LG Chem. And this difference can apparently only be partly explained by the lower energy density of LFP.
According to the Chinese portal CBEA, whose contribution on the subject has been translated by Twitter user @Dkurac, the density of the LFP battery at the level of the finished package is around 140 watt-hours per kilogram; that of the NMC batteries for Tesla should be 161 watt hours per kilogram. Analysts are therefore of the opinion that part of the weight gain in Model 3 is due to a higher battery capacity. The cheaper LFP cells may have been included in the larger package of the recently built Model 3 with a large battery.
Tesla MIC Model 3 carrying #LFP #battery officially enters catalog of cars approved for sales in #China as MIIT brings back the catalog it pulled down from its website a few days ago.
LFP manufacturer was not declared, but local media speculates it is #CATL. pic.twitter.com/Bs72DFJNUW
– Moneyball (@DKurac) May 22, 2020
In this way, according to CBEA, a capacity of 66-68 kilowatt hours would come out in China’s new Tesla Model 3 with LFP battery instead of just over 50 kilowatt hours – and a range that, at 510 kilometers despite the additional weight, would increase the previous standard model by around 65 Kilometers would exceed (each according to the more relaxed Chinese NEDC standard). And it would be above the symbolic mark of 500 kilometers for the basic model, the price of which Tesla recently lowered below the funding limit of 300,000 yuan (around 39,000 euros).
CATL as a worldwide Tesla partner
For other electric car manufacturers in China, the increase in range for the Tesla Model 3 could be a “huge blow”, CBEA writes, but for customers it would be a step forward. A Reuters report recently said the LFP-based CATL batteries for Tesla would only cost $ 80 per kilowatt hour at the pack level. This would make more capacity in the Model 3 SR + affordable despite the lower price.
Customers in the west may hope that the new China battery will find its way to them as soon as possible. After all, CATL has already described itself as a “worldwide” partner of Tesla.