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Shanghai Tesla Model 3 With Cobalt-Free LFP Battery Is Now Shipping To Europe

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 [Update: this news has now been confirmed via Tesla’s official WeChat account]:


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:

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:

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. [Update: Tesla’s official WeChat account has now confirmed they will start shipping the Shanghai made Model 3 later this month, to 10 European countries.]


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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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