Tesla has just approved a version of its Model 3 produced in China equipped with a new battery devoid of cobalt which should allow it to lower the price of its electric sedan on the Chinese market.
We’ve talked about this several times recently: Tesla’s next big news should revolve around batteries. In fact, the electric car manufacturer is looking to acquire its own technology in order to reduce its dependence on third-party suppliers and manage to lower production costs. This includes a battery with innovative chemistry capable of lasting the equivalent of 1.6 million kilometers.
But while waiting to discover more on this subject during Tesla Battery Day in July, here is already a first element which accredits this new strategy. The Electrek site tells us that the brand has just obtained the approval of the Chinese authorities to market in the country a Tesla Model 3 equipped with a new lithium-iron-phosphate battery.
The “Chinese” Tesla Model 3 weighs heavier
Assembled in the Gigafactory factory in Shanghai, this Model 3 uses batteries manufactured by LG Chem and Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL). It was the latter who developed batteries substituting cobalt-containing iron phosphate. The main advantage relates to the significantly lower production cost for this type of battery. Enough to allow Tesla to offer the Model 3 at a more aggressive price on the Chinese market where competition is fierce. However, these lithium-iron-phosphate batteries have a big drawback compared to lithium-ion cells: their energy density is lower. At equal capacity, a lithium-iron-phosphate battery will offer less autonomy than its lithium-ion equivalent.
However, it would seem that CATL has found a way to improve both the density and the longevity of this type of battery, without anyone knowing exactly what it is. According to the documents consulted by Electrek, the Tesla Model 3 sold in China equipped with this new battery weighs 100 kg more than the model produced in the United States (1,745 against 1,645 kg). Is it an addition of battery to compensate for a lower density in order to guarantee equivalent autonomy?