Will first Tesla cars with Blade battery come from Berlin?

Not GigaShanghai, but GigaBerlin is reportedly Tesla’s first factory to start equipping Model Y cars with the advanced Blade battery from Chinese automotive group BYD. The collaboration between both companies hasn’t been a secret, but while everybody assumed it would favor the Chinese market, Europe now seems to come first.

Neither company acknowledges the technical decision, but sources close to operations in Tesla’s Grünheide factory and a Chinese news channel confirm that the first deliveries of the Blade battery have already arrived.

GigaBerlin only assembles Model Y cars, so far equipped with the round 2170 cells. Then, the upgraded versions were expected to get the acclaimed and repeatedly announced 4860 cells. But now, it looks pretty likely that European customers will get Blade batteries.

Special shape

Using LFP chemistry, or lithium-iron-phosphate, BYD’s battery is advanced in several ways. First, its cell-to-pack architecture does away with space-consuming modules (you could regard it as one big module in itself), boosting energy density at pack level and efficiency. But even more important is the specific design of the cells, following a long and rectangular shape reminding of, yes, a blade.

It results primarily in a much safer pack. Nail penetration tests that cause thermal runaways in lithium-ion or ternary power lithium cells barely affect BYD’s battery, raising the temperature not higher than 60°C.

A lot can be said about fire-catching electric cars, but despite far more ICE cars bursting into flames every day, burning EVs are always breaking news, for sure, and quench adoption. The Blade battery must help that image.

Slower charging

Furthermore, with no cobalt or nickel needed, the technology puts less strain on raw earth materials. It is price-friendly with an assumed cost of 55 euros per kWh, undercutting the magical tipping point of 100 euros per kWh by a considerable margin. However, compared to more widely adopted chemistries, the downsides are less output, slower charging, and less energy density.

The news on Model Y cars with Blades underneath is also indirectly confirmed by the Chinese news channel Sina, claiming that Shanghai will stick to battery packs from only CATL (Tesla’s leading supplier) and LG Chem.

Second shift

This technological first could be a moral boost for the factory in Grünheide, which fails to get production ramped up smoothly due to shortages, failing robots, and HR issues.

In July, the factory shut down for two weeks, weighing in severely on the output. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, with the Blade batteries being introduced and a second shift taking up work in August 2022.

Favorable position

As for external car brands to which BYD delivers its Blade battery, Tesla doesn’t have exclusivity. The company also struck a deal with Toyota, planning to build a dedicated Chinese SUV equipped with it.

These tie-ups are deemed crucial for BYD’s further expansion on the worldwide market, putting the company in a favorable position to take over the lead from compatriot CATL as the biggest battery manufacturer in the world.

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