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Tesla Adds Model Y Variant With BYD Blade Batteries In Germany

Tesla will begin manufacturing a new version of the Model Y in Germany with a structural battery pack from BYD.

According to Germany’s TeslaMag, new structural battery packs from BYD are now arriving at the Tesla factory in Grünheide, Germany. The packs have a capacity of 55 kWh and feature the LFP Blade battery cells developed by BYD to reduce the possibility of battery fires associated with conventional lithium-ion battery cells while also providing a cost-competitive offering for electric cars. According to its sources, TeslaMag says the cars with the BYD structural battery packs will begin rolling off the line later this month or in early September.

Tesla has already secured type approval for the new model from the EU according to documentation leaked to TeslaMag. In those documents, the new Model Y is referred to as Type 005 and internally as variant Y7CR. Range is estimated at 440 kilometers.

The news about the BYD batteries demonstrates how nimble automakers need to be when it comes to sourcing batteries for electric cars. Electrive reports that the Model Y built in Germany was originally supposed to feature the latest 4680 battery cells developed by Tesla, but when production of those cells lagged behind expectations, the first cars off the line were equipped with the more common 2170 cells the company has been using for most of its cars for years.

Then last year Tesla said it was going to use 60 kWh battery packs from CATL in a single-motor Model Y with a range of 455 kilometers. When and why the switch to BYD occurred is unknown, because Tesla is about as tightlipped about corporate matters as the Pentagon is about troop movements. According to PushEVs, part of the answer may pertain to economics. It says the BYD battery packs cost €55 per kWh. Another part of the answer may be availability at a time when the demand for battery cells is far greater than the supply.

Efficiency could also be a factor. The BYD 55 kWh pack weighs 66 kilograms less than the $60 kWh CATL pack, which helps decrease power consumption to just 155 watt-hours per kilometer, slightly better than the 160 watt-hours per kilometer of the CATL equipped model. We assume the new Model Y with the BYD battery pack is a single-motor vehicle, but there is no official word from Tesla on that.

Overall, it seems Tesla is looking to produce a less expensive Model Y at a time when inflation is rampant in Europe. Range expectations are also somewhat lower among Europeans than they are with Americans, which means the reduced range may not be as much of a concern as it would be in the US.

There are two other news tidbits from German news source RBB. It says Tesla plans to add a second shift at the Grūnheide factory in August and transition to three full shifts by the beginning of next year. Tesla plans to be manufacturing 5,000 cars a week at the factory by then.

RBB also says production was shut down for a few weeks in July to address issues with the machine that makes the rear casting for the cars. Too many of those castings were defective, apparently. New technology seldom functions perfectly the first time it gets put to use.

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