Featured image: Belga/AFP
Tesla asks the Chinese government for permission to manufacture Model 3, made in the country, equipped with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries.
A document on the website of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says that Tesla requested permission from the Chinese government to manufacture cars equipped with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries. No other details are indicated in the document, so it remains unknown who the battery manufacturer is.
But, in February, Reuters reported that Tesla was actively negotiating the use of CATL LFP batteries that did not contain cobalt, one of the most expensive metals in electric vehicles (EV).
LFP batteries can make the MIC Model 3 a true mass market car. While many have speculated the ramifications of using less energy-dense cells by Tesla, using CATL's LFP batteries may be quite a strategic move for the EV automaker.
There are two main benefits for Tesla if it switches to CATL’s lithium iron phosphate batteries:
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.