- Tesla teases several new models in its Master Plan Part 3, including a long-rumored Compact model that had once been confirmed for production.
- The EV maker signals that it plans to shift to greater reliance on lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in a number of its vehicles in the near future, including the planned Compact model sometimes referred to as Model 2, promising lower production costs.
- The next-generation Tesla Roadster is not mentioned in the latest edition of the Master Plan at all, raising questions about its status years after the EV maker had opened up pre-orders for the pricey model.
Even those who don’t have an EV in their garage know that most electric cars on the market today use lithium-ion batteries, but it’s mostly EV owners who’ll be able to tell you that their batteries use nickel, manganese, and cobalt for cathode materials. This battery composition is by no means the only one suitable for EVs, though NMC batteries, as they’re usually known, have several advantages that make them a logical choice for most EVs.
Tesla’s Master Plan Part 3, detailed by the EV maker last week, gives a glimpse of yet another lithium-ion battery composition type that could prove crucial in the coming years, amid a supply crunch that is showing no signs of easing.
Tesla indicated that it plans to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in a number of its vehicles in the near future, including the long-rumored affordable EV positioned below the Model 3. The on-again, off-again Compact—imagined in our increasingly dated rendering above and often referred to as the Model 2 in Tesla circles—is seemingly back on. And it’s not the only model slated to rely on LFP batteries.
The EV maker revealed that it plans to use a 53-kWh LFP battery in the still-unnamed model, expanding its use of LFP batteries from the Model Y and Model 3 produced for the Chinese market.
LFP batteries are also headed for shorter-range versions of its Semi, which have yet to enter production. The automaker is also expected to shift to LFP batteries in future versions of the Model 3 and the Model Y offered stateside, after both receive facelifts and other updates.
The case for LFP batteries in shorter-range models is quite solid: LFP batteries offer a higher tolerance for more frequent as well as faster recharge cycles, a higher tolerance for being fully charged, are less prone to fires, and are less expensive to produce. The main disadvantage is a lower energy density, which limits range, but makes them suitable for smaller and less expensive models designed to offer a lower starting price.
Of course, NMC batteries have plenty of their own disadvantages, including a sensitivity to very high states of charge, a higher production cost, and a sensitivity to lower temperatures, which affects range.
A bigger question, aside from what the Compact model will be called, is just when we’ll see it.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has offered conflicting signals about the timing of the sub-Model 3 offering and its stage in the development cycle, at one point indicating that it will be produced in China in 2023—timing that has now slipped quite a bit with no new date mentioned in the Master Plan.
One other future model that had been confirmed by Tesla at several points in recent years, and for which the automaker has been taking deposits, was completely absent from Master Plan Part 3. The next-gen Roadster, first shown as a rendering in 2017—and promised with some kind of rocket-assisted handling—is simply nowhere to be seen in the plan.
Master Plan Part 3, on the other hand, does briefly mention quite a few vehicles Tesla has only rarely brought up, including a Bus, a Short Range Heavy Truck, and Commercial/Passenger Vans. Like the Compact, the debut dates for these vehicles are stated as TBD.
At the moment, Tesla’s new vehicle efforts are still focused squarely on getting the Cybertruck into production later this year, in a timeline that is increasingly seen as a best-case scenario. This is why we haven’t seen or heard more about the upcoming Compact model, which also appears to have taken a back seat role to Tesla’s sudden focus on humanoid robots—another item mentioned a couple of times and then rarely brought up again.
Will shorter range batteries make sense in the future Compact model, or will buyers still demand the kinds of ranges offered by the more expensive versions of the Model 3 and Model Y? Let us know what you think.
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