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New Tesla Model 3 Longer Range Batteries in Works for China

Tesla’s Gigafactory 3 is almost ready to start production in China, and now industry sources are reporting that LG Chem will soon begin to mass-produce the battery cells needed for the Shanghai factory.  LG Chem will provide Tesla with their Model 3 batteries, and from the sounds of things, these batteries will be a little different from the ones we have seen before.  The future with Tesla and cutting-edge lithium-ion batteries is starting to look pretty bright.

New Tesla Model 3 Batteries

According to the South Korean tech website THE ELEC, the new batteries to be supplied by LG Chem will be their 21700 type batteries using NCM811 cells.  The NCM811 cells come with a nickel proportion of 80 percent or more, and up until now has only been used with electric buses.  This will be the first time that the NCM811 cells will be used in an automobile. 

Previously Tesla has used batteries that were supplied by the Japanese company Panasonic.  Those batteries were manufactured with NCA cells, containing another type of high nickel cathode material.

So why make the switch?  According to sources, the new batteries are able to provide a longer range per charge, which obviously will work in Tesla’s benefit.  There is also a chance that LG Chem will start mass-producing NCMA batteries in the near future, which have an even higher nickel content.  If so, we might see those starting to roll out in new electric vehicles sometime in 2022.

So far we have not received any concrete confirmation of this news, but if it is true, it is very exciting.

“Million Mile” Batteries

Last April Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised that someday soon Tesla batteries would be rolling out with the ability to power cars for over a million miles during the course of their lifespan.  While this may have originally seemed like baseless speculation, earlier this month a paper was published in the Journal of the Electrochemical Society which claims just that.  A group of battery researchers at Dalhousie University (who have an exclusive research agreement with Tesla) described a lithium-ion battery that “should be able to power an electric vehicle for over 1 million miles”. 

The paper even goes so far as to describe in full detail the composition of these battery cells for the express purpose of allowing others to recreate them in their own work.  While such chemistries are usually a closely guarded secret in the industry, some speculate that the reason behind the disclosure is that Tesla already has a better battery in the works.  In fact, not long after the paper came out, Tesla received a patent for a new lithium-ion battery similar to the one described there.  At least one member of the Dalhousie University team is listed on the patent as an inventor. 

The researchers claim that the new batteries can be charged and depleted more than 4,000 times over the course of their lives and only lose about 10 percent of their energy capacity.  A million-mile range should definitely be possible with that sort of life expectancy. 

So it sounds like Musk’s prediction may be right this time: a million-mile battery will be coming soon.

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