Tesla Is Moving More Electric Cars To LFP Batteries Thanks To Nickel Shortage

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Musk has been concerned about the viability of nickel in and In 2020 July, he pleased mining companies to increase their production of nickel.


The Model 3 has already transitioned to LFP battery cells in China
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The Model 3 has already transitioned to LFP battery cells in China

Elon Musk has revealed that Tesla will soon be shifting most of its electric cars to LFP battery cells soon as the long term availability of nickel is questionable. Musk has been indicating this change for a while as he also believes the energy density of LFP batteries has improved to a point where it makes economic sense to use cobalt-free batteries, especially in its low-end vehicles. “Nickel is our biggest concern for scaling lithium-ion cell production. That’s why we are shifting standard range cars to an iron cathode. Plenty of iron (and lithium)!” the world’s second-richest man tweeted. 

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Musk has also said in the past that the increase in the use of LFP batteries will also free up the supply of lithium-ion batteries that use nickel as a cathode for Tesla’s other vehicles. In October 2020, Tesla transitioned the Model 3 standard range plus models which were manufactured in the Shanghai gigafactory with LFP battery cells. 

This is an interesting change because, in the US, the standard range model comes still with lithium-ion battery cells that have a nickel cathode — but Musk is indicating a change for the US too. 

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Musk has been concerned about the viability of nickel in the long run for a while. In 2020 July, he pleased mining companies to increase their production of nickel. Nickel prices have also been problems that have gone up by 16 per cent this year alone thanks to the increase in demand for electric car batteries. 

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“I’d just like to re-emphasise, any mining companies out there, please mine more nickel. Okay. Wherever you are in the world, please mine more nickel and don’t wait for a nickel to go back to some long – some high point that you experienced some five years ago, whatever. Go for efficiency, obviously environmentally-friendly nickel mining at high volume. Tesla will give you a giant contract for a long period of time if you mine nickel efficiently and in an environmentally sensitive way. So hopefully this message goes out to all mining companies. Please get a nickel,” Musk said at the time. 

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