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Tesla has received state approval for the production of Model 3s in China equipped with lithium iron phosphate batteries (LFP), according to a document on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The name of the battery manufacturer is not indicated in the document.
In February, Tesmanian reported that Tesla was negotiating the use of CATL LFP batteries that did not contain cobalt, one of the most expensive metals needed to make batteries for electric vehicles.
As previously discussed in a Tesmanian article, cobalt has been known as a problematic mineral, which may be the reason most companies want to stay away from it. First, cobalt is very expensive. Second, cobalt collection is usually mired with controversy, thanks to less than admirable mining practices.
Elon Musk has been vocal about Tesla’s continuous efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate cobalt in the company’s batteries in the past. The made-in-China Model 3 could be the first Tesla vehicle to reach that goal thanks to CATL’s LFP battery. Cobalt-free cells could also reduce the price of the locally made Tesla sedan, making it even more affordable to consumers in the Chinese market.
Also Tesla’s goal with CATL’s lithium iron phosphate batteries cells could be to finally eliminate modules in its battery packs by replacing cylindrical cells with prismatic ones.