BYD to supply Tesla with batteries

Image: Tesla

BYD will supply Tesla with battery cells. This rumour, which has been circulating since last year, has now been confirmed in essence for the first time by a BYD manager.

“We are good friends with Elon Musk, and we will soon supply him with batteries,” said Lian Yubo, head of the company’s Automotive Research Institute in an interview with the state-owned medium CGTN. He did not give further details.

The battery in question is likely to be BYD’s Blade battery. These are LFP cells in a special form factor, they are very long and narrow. As lithium iron phosphate cells, they do not require materials such as nickel and cobalt. With the “sword”-like form factor and BYD’s own developed cell chemistry, the blade battery in the battery pack is said to allow higher energy densities than LFP cells in a more conventional form factor. According to earlier reports, up to 150 Wh/kg should be possible.

In addition to cobalt-free cell chemistry (as with all LFP cells), blade batteries are also said to offer low cost. The portal PushEVs wrote of “an estimated 55 euros per kilowatt-hour”, or 64 dollars/kWh. BYD itself also repeatedly emphasises the high safety of the blade battery compared to other lithium-ion batteries. Later, BYD stated in another announcement that the battery should last 1.2 million kilometres or 3,000 charging cycles.

However, it remains to be seen to what extent the supply will take place and in which models Tesla will install the BYD cells. Yubo did not give any details on this. When asked how he would rate the BYD vehicles produced in China in comparison to Tesla, he said: “Tesla is a very successful company no matter what, BYD respects Tesla and we admire Tesla.” “Some of our domestic new car makers are actually also learning from it (Tesla), and it is an example for us to learn from”, he added.

Last summer, there were rumours that Tesla would use BYD cells in its planned entry-level model. In October, however, it was said that the alleged order for 10 GWh of the Blade batteries would be for the standard-range variants of the China-built Model 3 and Model Y. So far, there has been no comment from BYD or Tesla on the rumours.

Until now, Tesla has sourced its LFP batteries from CATL. The Chinese industry giant has a battery plant near Giga Shanghai. In its annual report for 2021, CATL stated that Tesla is now the company’s largest customer, accounting for ten per cent of its revenue. Tesla, in turn, had indirectly given an interesting insight into the use of CATL cells when it presented its first quarter financials. According to the carmaker, almost half of all Teslas delivered worldwide in the first quarter were equipped with LFP cells.


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