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Tesla lands quick EPA approval for new mysterious Model Y variant

Credit: Tesla

Tesla has evidently landed an EPA approval for a new variant of the Model Y all-electric crossover. A new 279-mile version of Tesla’s most popular vehicle appeared on the EPA’s Fuel Economy website last evening, confirming the vehicle has been tested by the agency.

Teslarati recently reported that Tesla was awaiting EPA approval of the Austin-built Model Y, based on a company statement in the Q4 2021 Shareholder Deck. We reported that Tesla had received approval for previous Model Y variants, but not the new configuration that was set to be built at Gigafactory Texas. This model would equip not only Tesla’s new 4680 battery cells but also the structural battery pack. However, the new Model Y variant, according to FuelEconomy.gov, only equips 279 miles of range, which seems to indicate that this is not the 4680-equipped Model Y that Tesla would be delivering to customers initially. InsideEVs initially reported on the appearance of the new Model Y variant on the Fuel Economy website.

In January, Tesla announced that it had produced its millionth 4680 battery cell at the Kato Road facility in Northern California. While this is an accomplishment Tesla was obviously proud of, it wasn’t necessarily confirmation that the 4680 cells were ready to be equipped in a massive number of Model Y vehicles. 1 million 4680 cells would produce around 1,200 Model Y vehicles, according to Industry researcher Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

The 279-mile rated Model Y that appeared on FuelEconomy.gov could be an LFP (lithium-iron-phosphate) cell, which Tesla and other automakers have started to use for its Standard Range vehicles.

Tesla applied for and received approval for new Model Y in February

The EPA received an application from Tesla on February 2, according to agency filings. The EPA then granted a Certificate of Conformity for this application on February 16, which could be an indication that Tesla has received approval to begin delivering this new, mysterious 279-mile Model Y variant.

Interestingly, Tesla has also applied for another EPA certification of a Model Y variant. The application was submitted on February 23, but has not received a Certificate of Conformity, which would allow the car to enter the stream of commerce, from the EPA as of March 13.

As of now, Tesla does not have a 279-mile variant of the Model Y listed on its design studio. Only the Long Range All-Wheel-Drive and Performance variants are available to order. However, it could begin to offer the variant in the coming days, especially if the company plans to roll out a new Standard Range configuration that could equip LFP cells. Tesla made this move with the Model 3 in August 2021. As Tesla was battling high order volume for the Model 3, the company communicated to customers awaiting delivery that they could switch to a different pack it uses in Europe and Asia. This is the LFP pack has been available in Shanghai-built Model 3s since 2020. Because of its sensitivity in cold weather and other situations, the pack offers lower range ratings. The LFP Model 3 only has 253 miles of range.

CEO Elon Musk explained the advantages of the LFP pack last year. “Our intent with this pack is that product experience is roughly equivalent between nickel & iron,” the CEO said. “I’d personally slightly opt for iron pack, as it wants to be charged to 100%, whereas nickel prefers ~90%.”

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Tesla lands quick EPA approval for new mysterious Model Y variant
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