Tesla revealed in its Q1 2022 Shareholder Deck that “nearly half” of the cars it produced in the first quarter equipped LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery cells that are free of nickel or cobalt.
“Diversification of battery chemistries is critical for long-term capacity growth, to better optimize our products for their various use cases and expand our supplier base,” Tesla said in the Q1 2022 Shareholder Deck release just after market close on Wednesday. “This is why nearly half of Tesla vehicles produced in Q1 were equipped with a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery, containing no nickel or cobalt. Currently, LFP batteries are used in most of our standard range vehicle products, as well as commercial energy storage applications. As a result of our energy efficient motors, a Model 3 with an LFP battery pack can still achieve a 267-mile EPA range.”
Tesla made it evident during the initial indications there would be battery material shortages that it would have to combat the issue by developing different cell chemistries. In August 2021, Tesla started offering LFP battery packs to customers in North America who had ordered Standard Range Model 3 trim configurations. Tesla had been using LFP battery cells in Asia and Europe for some time, while North American builds of the Model 3 SR+ utilized Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum battery chemistries.
In total, the electric automaker delivered 310,048 vehicles in Q1.
To combat demand, Tesla offered North American customers these LFP packs. While they offer 253 miles of range, owners were able to take delivery of their vehicles sooner. Tesla communicated to customers:
“We are contacting you about your Model 3 Standard Range Plus, currently estimated for delivery near the end of the year. We’d like to offer you the opportunity to receive your car even sooner. Due to limited supply and strong customer demand, we are introducing the Model 3 Standard Range Plus battery pack, which we already released in Europe and Asia, to North America. This battery has a range of 253 miles (est).”
CEO Elon Musk later went on to explain that Tesla’s intent with the LFP back is the product experience between nickel and iron is “roughly equivalent.”
“I’d personally slightly opt for iron pack, as it wants to be charged to 100%, whereas nickel prefers ~90%,” Musk went on to say.
There is a 10-mile range difference between the two battery packs, but the fact that the LFP cells are best charged to 100% means that owners could frequently get their vehicles’ maximum range.
Tesla prices increase as raw material costs soar
Tesla performed several routine price increases during Q1, with a substantial hike on its entire lineup at the end of the quarter. The Model X Plaid climbed $12,500 during the most recent round, which was attributed to “inflation pressure,” according to Musk.
Prices for raw materials, especially nickel, soared as the War in Ukraine raged on. Nickel costs skyrocketed following a short squeeze on Nickel on the London Metals Exchange, which shot the cost of a metric ton of the metal up $70,000, from $30,000 to $100,000.
While Tesla did sign several nickel supply deals, including one with Talon Metals, it was forced to switch to the LFP packs to combat widespread raw material shortages and price spikes.
The Tesla Q1 2022 earnings call will begin at 4:30 p.m. CT / 5:30 p.m. PT.
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