It seems that anything and everything to do with Tesla these days is rumor, speculation, and wild-ass guesses, since the company no longer responds to any requests for information and maintains strict radio silence at all times. Nevertheless, interesting tidbits do emerge occasionally, the latest being a report (in Chinese) by cls.cn that suggests Tesla plans to use BYD’s LFP blade batteries in a production car beginning in the second quarter of next year.
Before we get to the rampant speculation this rumor has created, let’s look closer at the blade battery from BYD, which we described in detail last year. The most important think about it, other than its unusual battery cell size — 905 millimetres long, 118 millimetres high, and 13.5 millimetres wide — is that it is virtually impossible to get it to overheat and catch fire. BYD has chopped it with an ax, smashed it with a sledgehammer, driven nails through it, and gotten nothing — not even a puff of smoke — for its troubles.
The cells used in the US-made Tesla Model 3 have an energy density of 260 Wh/kg compared to the 160 Wh/kg for the Blade battery, but the LFP cells supplied by CATL for Chinese made Teslas only have an energy density of 125 Wh/kg, so the BYD product is superior in that respect.
But from a marketing point of view, in a world where fossil fuel financed FUD about electric cars is everywhere, being able to reassure customers that their cars are not going to catch fire in the middle of the night and burn the house down while they sleep is a big deal. BYD says the blade battery will last 3000 charging cycles — enough for about 1.2 million kilometers of driving. Cross off another big concern for some EV shoppers.
Rampant Speculation Time
— Moneyball (@DKurac) August 5, 2021
Let’s try reading the tea leaves here to figure out what this information may mean — assuming it’s true. Electrive says Tesla may want to establish an alternative supplier for its standard range models in China, or it could be the planned entry-level model that is rumored to be coming. Multiple internet sources have been speculating about this less expensive car from Tesla, and the most common placeholder (which may have started at CleanTechnica just for fun) is “Model 2.” If there is such a car in the works, it is being developed by Tesla’s engineering and design facility in China and will cost between 150,000 and 200,000 yuan (equivalent to between €19,000 and €25,000).
Electrive adds that rumors last week claimed Tesla has completed the first prototype of the new vehicle, test production is planned for the end of 2021, and the supply chain is now being established. The source of those rumors is Twitter user @Ray4Tesla, who is usually well informed about such matters.
The elusive cheaper compact Model Whatever may come sooner than you think. The prototype is said to have been completed & most component suppliers have been lined up. Trial production has been planned for the end of 2021. pic.twitter.com/ZCRDfc58kf
— Ray4Tesla⚡️🚘☀️🔋 (@ray4tesla) July 30, 2021
Assuming there is meat on the bones of all these rumors, Tesla is indeed proceeding in accordance with its Secret Master Plan to bring affordable electric cars to the world, using the profits from more expensive models to fund expansion of its lineup. Sadly, this is something US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg seems blissfully unaware of. Perhaps he should read CleanTechnica a bit more often.
Is the Model 2 something that might come to America? That’s doubtful. US drivers turn their noses up at any any car that isn’t at least 20 feet long, seats 9, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound. But it could be a huge hit in Europe, Africa, Central and South America, the Middle East, China, and the rest of Asia, where efficient, affordable transportation is still highly valued.