According to Chinese media reports, Tesla will use improved LFP cells from CATL in the Model Y produced in China starting from next year. CATL will supply so-called ‘M3P’ batteries to Tesla for the first time for the Model Y with a 72 kWh battery from the fourth quarter of 2022.
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The cathode is no longer made of lithium iron phosphate, but of lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP). This should enable a higher energy density than with LFP cells. The LMFP material will be supplied by Shenzhen Dynanonic, which plans to produce 110,000 tonnes of the material from the second half of this year.
Such reports around LMFP cells for Tesla are new. Previously, it was assumed that the energy density of LFP batteries would be increased, for example, via improvements in CATL’s cell-to-pack technology – the third generation of CtP technology that has been presented is supposed to enable higher energy densities of 160 Wh/kg for LFP cells.
According to the Late Post report, which was picked up by the English-language CN EV Post and others, Tesla is also developing its own LMFP batteries. However, due to the long development cycles, the carmaker had decided to initially source such batteries from external suppliers – i.e. CATL with preliminary products from Shenzhen Dynanonic.
CATL had already announced in mid-July at the World EV & ES Battery Conference 2022 in Yibin, Sichuan province, that the M3P battery (which is an internal CATL acronym and has nothing to do with the Tesla acronym for the Model 3 Performance) is already in mass production and will be used in production vehicles from 2023. Tesla is CATL’s largest single customer.
LMFP is not only the focus of Chinese suppliers; some companies in Germany are also working on this material. IBU-Tec Advanced Materials wants to expand its product family of LFP battery materials in future to include a variant with added manganese. A consortium around Varta and the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) wants to develop LMFP cells for electric aviation.
Update 25 August 2022
After a few weeks delay, Tesla has now denied rumours from earlier this month that new battery cells will be used in vehicles produced in China in the future. Chinese media had reported that improved LFP cells from CATL would be used in the Model Y produced in China next year. In a statement on Weibo, Tesla now explained that this is a “rumour that is intentionally misleading consumers”. There are also “currently” no plans to use new 4680 format cells in models manufactured in China.
Following the earlier reports, there were new rumours last week that Tesla would soon launch a “new Chinese-made Model 3”, “whose biggest highlight will be the use of M3P batteries”. In other words, the new CATL battery, which is supposed to offer an improvement in range of “at least ten per cent”. Instead of 556 and 675 kilometres on the CTLC cycle, the upgrade is expected to deliver 600 and 700 kilometres respectively.
The recent speculation by certain individuals and “self-media” about “Tesla’s upcoming model revision” was a deliberate disinformation campaign, Tesla said in the statement. “We hope people will tip us off and we will pursue the rumour-mongers.”
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