The company also expects to use LFP prismatic cells in Fremont in entry-level Model 3/Model Y.

Tesla appears to be undergoing a major overhaul of its battery approach in the U.S., with another chemistry and form factor in the equation.

The situation was simple before, as the company was using in Fremont 1865-type cylindrical cells in the Model S/Model X imported from Japan, and 2170-type cylindrical cells in the Model 3/Model Y, supplied from the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. Both types were Panasonic’s NCA chemistry.

We guess that there might be some other battery suppliers in the U.S. as well, but Panasonic so far was the dominant one.

New 4680-type cylindrical cells are under development by Tesla, but not yet ready for volume production. And there is the fourth type – prismatic LFP (lithium iron phosphate) cells, supplied by CATL from China.

The LFP battery cells are used in Model 3 Standard Range Plus (SR+) in China, and most recently also in California. Moreover, Tesla introduced the LFP-powered Model Y Standard Range version in China and soon might do the same in the U.S.

Let’s summarize the options:

  • Tesla Factory in California
    1865-type cylindrical cells, Panasonic’s NCA (Model S/Model X)
    2170-type cylindrical cells, Panasonic’s NCA (Model 3/Model Y)
    prismatic, CATL’s LFP (Model 3 SR+ option, possible Model Y SR in the future)
  • Tesla Giga Shanghai
    2170-type cylindrical cells, LG Energy Solution’s NCM 811/NCMA (Model 3 LR/Model Y LR); initially Panasonic’s NCA
    prismatic, CATL’s LFP (Model 3 SR+, Model Y SR)

No 4680 cells for Texas/Germany launch?

Tesla is close to completing its two new electric vehicle plants – Giga Austin in Texas and Giga Berlin in Germany. Both were expected to produce the Model Y with the all-new 4680-type cylindrical cells.

The production of the Model Y in Texas and Germany is expected to begin later this year (near Berlin as soon as in October), however, if the 4680-cell will not be ready in volume, the company has a backup plan to use the 2170-type.

We guess that the availability of the 4680-cells from just a pilot facility in California is very low. Both the Tesla Semi and Tesla Cybertruck, which were expected to use the new cell, were already postponed to 2022 (about the Cybertruck).

There are rumors that Tesla will begin production of the Model Y in Texas and in Germany with the current 2170-type cells.

There are reasons for that. The order backlog for the Model Y appears to be very long and the new 4680-type cells might not be available in the required volume. In other words, the plants should start production as soon as possible.

LFP cells for SR cars in California, NCA for LR cars in Texas/Berlin

And here is the final thought that combines all the factors above. Tesla might be in the process of switching the Tesla Factory in Fremont to LFP prismatic cells in the Model 3 SR+ and introducing Model Y SR to unlock the 2170-type NCA battery capacity for Texas/Berlin. Of course, at the same time, entry-level cars with LFP batteries should become more affordable.

We are not entirely sure who will supply Tesla Giga Berlin with 2170-cylindrical cells.

It would look like this:

  • Tesla Factory in California
    1865-type cylindrical cells, Panasonic’s NCA (Model S/Model X)
    2170-type cylindrical cells, Panasonic’s NCA (Model 3 LR/Model Y LR)
    prismatic, CATL’s LFP (Model 3 SR+ option, Model Y SR)
  • Tesla Giga Austin in Texas
    2170-type cylindrical cells, Panasonic’s NCA (Model 3 LR/Model Y LR)
    waiting for 4680-type
  • Tesla Giga Berlin in Germany
    2170-type cylindrical cells, LG Energy Solution’s NCM 811/NCMA or Panasonic’s NCA (Model 3 LR/Model Y LR)
    waiting for 4680-type
  • Tesla Giga Shanghai
    2170-type cylindrical cells, LG Energy Solution’s NCM 811/NCMA (Model 3 LR/Model Y LR)
    prismatic, CATL’s LFP (Model 3 SR+/Model Y SR)

As we can see, there a few chemistries, a few form factors, multiple changes and waiting for the “ultimate” kind of cylindrical cells to come in volume.

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