Reuters’ Article On Tesla's Million-Mile Battery Needs Clarification

The text leads to some conclusions that are not correct.

When Reuters anticipated that Tesla would buy LFP – lithium iron phosphate – batteries from CATL in China, we soon jumped in to clarify these would be prismatic cells applied to the entry-level Model 3 made at Giga Shanghai. On May 14, Reuters published another article talking about the million-mile battery that should be the star of Tesla Battery Day. Elon Musk just postponed it again, but there are many points in Reuters‘ article that deserved our attention. They can lead to inaccurate conclusions this text aims to avoid.

The first point is that it says Tesla will sell in China a “low-cost, long-life” new battery next year on the Model 3 made there. The prismatic LFP cells fit that description, but Reuters states that these batteries are “designed to last for a million miles of use.” This may give readers the impression that the LFP CATL batteries are the “million-mile” cells Tesla intends to produce on its own. That is not the case.

The “million-mile” batteries use very different chemistry, as we already mentioned when the first patents emerged. They will be perfected NMC cells – or Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide batteries.

The article also says Tesla has a fleet of 1 million electric cars around the world, which are “capable of connecting to and sharing power with the grid” as an example that the company intends to become an electricity provider. Unfortunately, that is not correct. Tesla vehicles cannot deal with smart grids. In other words, they only take energy from outlets, not give it back. 

We believe that capability is not available because it affects the battery pack’s lifespan. Every time a completely charged battery fully delivers its energy, we have a cycle. Battery longevity is calculated in terms of these charging and discharging cycles.

Tesla probably decided not to deal with smart grids precisely because that could affect battery pack durability and have warranty implications. With a “million-mile” battery, that issue would be a lot less concerning. Applied to grid energy storage alone, a bunch of them could endure for two decades. That is why it is so strategic to the company.