Tesla Launches Entry Model 3 with Newer LFP Battery Tech in the U.S.

Tesla model 3 LFP battery

Image via Reddit

A recent rumour from @TroyTeslike claimed Tesla would start using lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells for Model 3 and Model Y production at its Fremont, California factory.

LFP batteries are made by Chinese supplier CATL, and used in Tesla’s vehicles made at its Shanghai Gigafactory for Model 3 and Model Y.

Now, it appears this rumor is indeed true, as confirmed by Tesla. The company sent out emails today to Model 3 Standard Range Plus owners, saying, “we’d like to offer you the opportunity to receive your car sooner,” instead of near the end of 2021.

“Due to limited supply and strong customer demand, we are introducing the Model 3 Standard Range Plus battery back, which we already released in Europe and Asia, to North America. This battery has a range of 253 miles (estimated).”

Tesla says if owners want to take delivery as early as September, they are being told to visit the company’s inventory page and search for Model 3 Standard Range Plus vehicles. “If you choose to order, your original order fee can be applied to the purchase price of your vehicle upon delivery.”

The company says they will “continue adding inventory on a rolling basis.” As expected, this afternoon, Model 3 vehicles with LFP battery packs were indeed in stock on Tesla’s website.

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These newer LFP batteries are different from the existing nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cells used at Fremont, made by Panasonic.

For starters, LFP cells don’t degrade as quickly, so owners can charge to 100%, while NCA cells usually can only reach 90%, before degradation may set in. LFP cells are also more fire-resistant due to non-flammable cathodes but are also heavier.

Tesla’s Giga Shanghai factory has been exporting Model 3 and Model Y to Asia-Pacific and also Europe. These vehicles use LFT battery cells from CATL and now we’re again seeing tech trickle down to Tesla’s supply chain in the USA (similar to Bioweapon Defense Mode debuting for Model Y in the USA, when it first launched in China for the latter).

Update: Elon Musk has responded with why Tesla is introducing this option.

“Our intent with this pack is that product experience is roughly equivalent between nickel & iron,” said Musk.

“I’d personally slightly opt for iron pack, as it wants to be charged to 100%, whereas nickel prefers ~90%,” added the Tesla CEO.