Tesla has made a big fuss about switching its standard-line models to batteries made from lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells, citing their many advantages, such as better material availability and lower cost. The manufacturer clarified that the LFP does not offer better weight, better efficiency or better energy density, but for some applications it is ultimately a better choice.
Even though the LFP isn’t as good on paper as previous cell-based packs with nickel-cobalt-aluminum (or NCA) chemistry, testing has shown that there is some difference in performance (though range decreases by around 10 miles), and another positive is that Tesla says users can safely charge LFP vehicles up to 100% with much less fear of degradation; the manufacturer recommends limiting the charge for NCA packs to 90%.
Tesla began building LFP-equipped Model 3s and Model Ys in China last summer, and now on the latest earnings call it has announced that more than half of the vehicles it delivered in the first quarter of 2022 had the LFP pack. The manufacturer notes that
Diversifying battery chemistries is essential for long-term capacity growth, to better optimize our products for their different use cases and to expand our supplier base.
That’s why nearly half of Tesla vehicles produced in the first quarter were equipped with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, which contains no nickel or cobalt. Currently, LFP batteries are used in most of our standard line vehicle products, as well as in commercial energy storage applications. Thanks to our energy-efficient motors, a Model 3 with an LFP battery can still achieve an EPA range of 267 miles.
Tesla previously reported that its production number in the first quarter of 2022 jumped 69.4% year-over-year to just over 310,000 vehicles, and most of those were the smaller models. 3 and Y models. According to Tesla’s claim, almost 150,000 of them had the LFP package.
The company has also raised the price of its NCA Pack-equipped vehicles several times over the past year or more, while LFP-equipped variants have retained their price; this made the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y ineligible for California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), which gave buyers a $2,000 rebate, making variants with LFP packs even more desirable.
In addition, Tesla also sent order holders who were expecting their Model 3 or Model Y last year an email stating that their vehicle configured with an NCA package would take several more months to arrive and were asked if they wanted to upgrade to an LFP vehicle which they could receive much sooner.