Tesla switches to LFP batteries in all standard range cars

A close-up of the Tesla logo on the charger of the supercharged fast battery charging station of the electric vehicle company Tesla Motors in the town of Silicon Valley in Mountain View, California, August 24, 2016.

Smith Collection / Gado | Photo Archive | Getty Images

Tesla has changed the chemistry of batteries used in all standard range electric vehicles to a version with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode, automakers said Wednesday in the third quarter. Said in the investor deck.

This move is likely to be a way for Tesla to fully increase the profit margins of electric vehicles, but it doesn’t necessarily have to increase the price of the vehicle. In the past, Tesla has been criticized for sporadic vehicle price changes.

The company is already manufacturing vehicles with LFP chemistry at its Shanghai plant. These cars are sold in China, Asia Pacific, and Europe.

According to materials researcher and consultant Roskill, China generally promotes the use of this type of battery. The company states that about 95% of its LFP cathode production is produced in China.

In September, Tesla told US Model 3 reservation holders a battery made of LFP cells instead of the nickel-cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) cells that Tesla had previously used on Model 3 sedans sold in North America. I asked if I would accept a car equipped with. ..

Sam Abuelsamid, Principal Analyst at Guidehouse Insights, said: “It’s significantly cheaper, doesn’t require nickel or cobalt, and is more stable and safer.”

One major drawback: cells have a low energy density, which means they have the same weight and narrow range as other cells. Cold weather also affects them more, Abu Elsamide said.

Abuelsamid believes that Tesla’s changes are “probably a wise idea and likely to boost revenue, as they probably won’t be cheaper.”

According to Abuelsamid, other automakers such as Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen are interested in low-priced model battery chemistry. He also said it was particularly attractive for commercial vehicles such as delivery vans, which do not require a range of hundreds of miles.

Taylor Organ, CEO of Tesla’s longtime bull Snow Bull Capital, told CNBC: Second, these batteries are very easy to recycle and the procurement of these raw materials is ethically easy. So iron-based batteries are already Chinese batteries and have everything you need in the standard range. car. “

The two leading manufacturers of these types of battery cells are CATL and BYD. Tesla is already procuring batteries from the CATL previously disclosed by both companies.

Tesla did not provide additional details on decisions other than the investor deck, which stated that it was “shifting globally to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry.”

Tesla didn’t immediately respond to comments.

-CNBC Lola Corodney Contributed to this report.

Tesla switches to LFP batteries in all standard range cars

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