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Shanghai Tesla Model 3 With Cobalt-Free LFP Battery May Be Shipping To Europe


Published on October 19th, 2020 |
by Dr. Maximilian Holland

October 19th, 2020 by  

Following a Bloomberg News report in September that Tesla planned to ship the Shanghai made Tesla Model 3 to Europe, customer pre-order agreements in France and Germany are now showing up with “Model 3 – China” in the description:

Next Model 3 SR+ will come from China, it’s official 😱@BlogTeslaFr @TSLAEnFR @Teslarati @teslabros @teslaownersSV @TeslaStars @Model3Owners @TeslaWolfy @WholeMarsBlog @Tesmanian_com

— Green Drive Tesla Accessories (@GreenDriveTesl1) October 18, 2020

This image pops up on my @Tesla Facebook page – This means that i was right with my earlier assumption that these cars would be heading to Europe. Its a German VIN allocation. @jpr007

— Armand Vervaeck🎗️ (@ArmandVervaeck) October 18, 2020

These pre-order documents appear to be for the Model 3 SR+ variants.

The LFP batteries supplied by CATL are also reported to now be installed in the Shanghai Model 3 SR+ vehicles:

Tesla MIC Model 3 starts installing #CATL #LFP batteries, #China media citing MIIT Sep production certificates.



170 Wh/kg


55 kWh

NEDC: 468 km

— Moneyball (@DKurac) October 15, 2020

So it seems likely that any Tesla Model 3 vehicles that get shipped from the Shanghai Gigafactory to customers in Europe will include the new LFP batteries.

According to documents from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the LFP variant of the Model 3 SR+ actually has slightly higher range rating (468km NEDC) than the previous nickel-based battery version of the SR+ (originally 445 km NEDC). Although NEDC ratings are over-optimistic, the relative gain in range (~5%) will likely be preserved in real world use.

Furthermore, like most LFP chemistries, the LFP pack variant of the Model 3 is very robust for charging, even for charging habitually to 100%, according to Tesla’s customer support:

A little interesting tidbit about Model 3 SR+ with LFP batteries

(from official Tesla 🇨🇳 support):

You can always charge to 100%.

Actually customers are encouraged to charge to 100% at least once a week.

Pretty convenient IMO

— 特拉风🇨🇳T☰SLA mania (@Tesla__Mania) October 15, 2020

It will also be interesting to see if Tesla has increased the DC charging power, or modified the charging curve, on the LFP version of the Model 3.

What’s Tesla’s strategy here? We know that LFP batteries are cheaper and less mineral constrained than nickel based batteries. LFP batteries are going to become the main pillar for most of Tesla’s standard range vehicles (its most affordable and highest selling vehicles globally) for the foreseeable future.

Currently Tesla is only confirmed to have supply agreements for LFP batteries from CATL for the China made vehicles. This will likely evolve in the future as CATL and other LFP cell producers are setting up factories in Europe, which will be able to be supplied to Tesla’s Berlin Gigafactory.

For the moment though, the only way for Tesla to get its most affordable and lowest cost (LFP) Model 3s to European customers is to ship them in from Shanghai, since that’s the only place they are made.

Shanghai Tesla Model 3 / Image: Tesla

Although the combination of the original Bloomberg report and these recent pre-order documents do appear to add up to strong evidence, and the business case for Tesla makes sense, we’ll have to wait for further details in order to be able to fully confirm this news.

We’ll be on the lookout for any official updates from Tesla, or reports from from European customers once the vehicles are delivered. 



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About the Author

Max is an anthropologist, social theorist and international political economist, trying to ask questions and encourage critical thinking about social and environmental justice, sustainability and the human condition. He has lived and worked in Europe and Asia, and is currently based in Barcelona.
Find Max’s book on social theory, follow Max on twitter @Dr_Maximilian and at, or contact him via LinkedIn.

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