Tesla Model 3 cobalt-free LFP version details (update)

Tesla Model 3 cobalt-free LFP version details (update)
Tesla Model 3 made in China

While most automakers are still making excuses to delay the massification of electric cars, the Standard Range Plus version of the Tesla Model 3 made in China already has an extremely safe, durable, simple and cheap cobalt-free LFP battery from CATL and an impressive profit margin of 35 %.

This version costs 291.800 yuan (36.480 euros) before government subsidies and 271.550 yuan (33.948 euros) after subsidies.

Curiously, in the more expensive Long Range version of the same electric car made in China the profit margin is lower (32 %). In this version the battery is more complex and made with NCM 811 cylindrical battery cells from LG Chem.

Moreover, profit margins can even double if Tesla starts sourcing more components from local suppliers.

Automakers that say they are losing money with their overpriced electric cars are either lying or doing it wrong. Maybe it’s both…


Let’s see the specs of the Tesla Model 3 made in China with LFP battery.

  • Length: 4.694 mm
  • Width: 1.850 mm
  • Height: 1.443 mm
  • Gross mass: 2.170 kg
  • Curb weight: 1.745 kg
  • Max speed: 225 km/h (140 mph)
  • Range (NEDC): 468 km (291 miles)
  • Battery energy density: 125 Wh/kg
  • Energy consumption: 12,6 kWh/100 km
  • Battery type: LiFePO4 (LFP)
  • Motor type: Permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM)
  • Motor power: 202 kW
  • Moor RPM: 5.000
  • Motor torque: 404 Nm


In the more realistic WLTP test cycle the range should be around 351 km (218 miles).

Unfortunately we still don’t know the capacity of the battery or cells. Some rumors suggest that the battery pack is made with 108 cells (108s1p). It’s suggested that CATL’s battery pack is either module-less or it has 4 modules and each module has 27 cells as you can see from the drawing below.


Hypothetical Tesla Model 3 LFP battery from CATL


Anyway, the gravimetric energy density of 125 Wh/kg at the battery pack level is disappointing, considering that the BYD Blade Battery achieves 140 Wh/kg.


Summing up…

Energy density: 125 Wh/kg (not amazing)
Profit margin: 35 % (very amazing)


Now I wonder what’s next. If Tesla starts producing a supermini at its upcoming plant in Germany and sells it for less than 30.000 euros before subsidies, it’ll easily dominate the European market.



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Earl Colby Pottinger
3 months ago

One look at that profit margin, and you wonder how low can they go if there is more competition in the future. If I did my math right they could lower the price by as much as 10,000 euros and still make a small profit. Of-course they will not do that because of the lost profit and because the Chinese government will want other local cars be able to compete, but a price drop for 500 or 1000 euros can be done if that is what is needed to stay in the market.

3 months ago

This huge profit margin is what helps Tesla to build factories and superchargers.
For Tesla, it’s great to have no competition right now…
Competition can come when the plant in Germany is ready to start production next year.
The funny thing is that if German automakers embraced electric cars earlier instead of trying to undermine them, Tesla probably wouldn’t be around right now…

Maximilian Holland
3 months ago

That profit margin of 35% is speculation by Xingye securities who have been significantly wrong on Tesla profit margins before, as Dkurak noted in his (now deleted) tweet. No evidence to show this is much more than an attempted publicity grab by Xingye.
Now DKurac quotes an Anxin securities guesstimate of profit margin (39.4%), but still not much to support this https://twitter.com/DKurac/status/1270187339445202945
Either way, yes the MIC vehicles already have pretty decent profit margins. Later they will have very good margins, but mainly this will come when almost all of the supply is localized, not before the back end of 2020.
Agree a bit disappointing on the MIIT data for pack gravimetric density of 125 Wh/kg. But if the vehicle dynamics are still okay, no significant problem for this application. There’s room for this to improve greatly towards BYD’s 140 and later the 160 many of the cell OEMs have talked about.

3 months ago

Thanks Max.
So we can assume a profit margin of 35-40 % with room for improvement, which is great.
I wonder what’s the figure for the BYD Han EV with the CTP battery. Considering that BYD already has a large list of local suppliers, I imagine that costs are lower than Tesla’s.

3 months ago

What charging rates will those batteries allow?

3 months ago
Reply to  Lars

I don’t know how good is the cooling system, but think they can reach 3 C.
My guess is that the battery is around 60 kWh and the max charging rate is 180 kW.

3 months ago

218 WLTP range is not more than 200 EPA, which is not great.

It makes the Chinese SR+ 20% less capable than the American version.

I am not sure this is a great marketing strategy in modern China.

3 months ago
Reply to  sola

218 mile Wltp is terrible
The sr+ has 254 mile Wltp range. So this is more than 10% less. Real world this is not going to do anywhere near 200 miles.

3 months ago

Very disappointing energy density

3 months ago
Reply to  Neu7ral

Now I understand the delay of the battery day, if they had presented it shortly after the BYD presentation with their Blade batteries, they would have been technologically behind, with what that means for a company like Tesla. 

3 months ago
Reply to  Neu7ral

I think that CATL can do better with a real module-less CTP battery pack.

3 months ago

Tesla uses the cheapest battery for maximum profit. Still the car goes 468 km (NEDC) and thats because of superior. Why not other automakers use the same battery.
I think the low priced trims of every EV with lower range / lower cost can go with the LFP battery. Earlier the lead acid batteries did this job in low speed EVs. Now the regular high speed EV with somewhat lower 250 – 400 km range can use the LFP.

3 months ago

Hi Pedro,
It seems to me that the patent drawings are not related to the Tesla but it is a work of some chinese company “how it can looks like”?
Maybe it is my personal view on LFP but I am not sure if LFP pack is “holy grail” for Tesla. It will definitely work great in China due to the LFP national support and CATL production site nearby, but in EU or US it will be another story.
The LFP energy density is still significantly lower than NCM/NCA and it is clearly shown on this example. TM3 with LFP is as expected significantly heavier and more important you can not install more energy than in SR+ battery with NCA/NMC. So LFP version weight 1745 kg vs 1612 kg with NCA/NMC. Due to the higher weight you will have higher comsumption for the vehicle life. Also handling and shipping costs with the heavier and bigger LFP battery cells will by higher so this will somehow lower the benefit of lower cost of LFP cells, particularly when they have to beeen transported around the world.

3 months ago
Reply to  Pajda

Hi Pajda.
Thanks for the clarification, I missed that part where the drawings were hypothetical… I revised the article accordingly.
As for the low energy density, it can be explained either by the use of modules, instead of module-less CTP technology or there’s a lot of electronics inside the pack (Tesla usually does this). Probably it’s both.
I think that the BYD Blade Battery with LFP chemistry is very appealing and it can be improved if LFMP is adopted. By the way, it seems that BYD will supply CTP batteries to Land Rover.
What I would really like to see is a supermini like the Renault ZOE with a cobalt-free CTP battery and sold for less than 20.000 euros 🙂

Stephane Cnockaert
3 months ago

Very confusing figures.
Gross mass 2,170 kg ; Curb weight 1,745 kg ; what’s the difference?
Battery energy density 125 Wh/kg ; bare cells or complete battery pack?
Energy consumption 12.6 kWh/100 km ; sorry this can’t be true.
Imagine the VW ID.3, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model Y featuring a $1,920 24 kWh Li-FePO4 “short skateboard” battery pack, shorter than a “full skateboard” battery pack. It is costing $3,840 less than a Li-NCM or Li-NCA 72 kWh “full skateboard” battery pack. It must sustain a 3C discharge rate (72 kW power) till empty.
It doesn’t extend under the rear seating.
One can thus install a 45 liters fuel tank, a 45 kW @ 4,500 rpm FCA engine or Renault engine, and a 45 kW @ 4,500 rpm axial-flux EMRAX or MAGNAX electric generator weighing 90 kg with proper integration, and costing $4,500 together. The cost penalty is only $660. The selling price increase is only $959 all tax included.

3 months ago

Gross mass: “It describes the maximum operating weight of the electric car including the curb weight and payload (accessories, equipment, driver, passengers and cargo).”
Curb weight: “Is the EV mass with standard equipment, liquids but without cargo and passengers. In some EU countries, the curb weight also includes the weight of a 75 kg (165 lb) driver.”
The battery energy density of 125 Wh/kg is for the entire battery pack.
The low energy consumption figure is in the unrealistic NEDC test cycle…

Stephane Cnockaert
3 months ago
Reply to  Pedro Lima

Many thanks Pedro. Now is time to setup a “PUSHYBRIDSERIALS” website telling about a 45 kW @ 4,500 rpm FCA engine or Renault engine, about the size of a cabin baggage, placed underneath the rear seating. Serving as range extender for all plugin hybrid cars that are basing on the “skateboard” architecture that got developed for EVs. Remember the Toyota Previa 1990-1999, featuring a 100 kW 2.4 liter 4-inline cylinders engine located underneath the front seating. Imagine the compactness and the low cost of a 2-valve 45 kW 1.3 liter 3-inline cylinders engine that’s featuring pushrods along with a fixed valve timing optimized for delivering the power that’s required for long-range cruising at the 75 mph (120 km/h) legal speed, plus say 25% as reserve. From a usability perspective, such HYBRIDSERIAL cars will beat all EV cars. Such HYBRIDSERIAL car will “recharge” 500 miles (800 km) in 5 minutes in all existing petrol stations, and will never face a queue.

Counter-Strike Cat
3 months ago

Tesla will use cobalt for many years to come and continue to destroy the environment. Tesla is far behind in it own cobalt free battery development.

Counter-Strike Cat
3 months ago

The Tesla German fuctory will made only 60000+€ rich toy cars. Tesla can not compete with real cars.

Stephane Cnockaert
3 months ago

Yes indeed. Hopefully a 24 kWh “short skateboard” battery costing no more than $2,000 installed inside the VW ID.3, can ruin Tesla. Everybody knows. The VW ID.3 wheelbase allows installing a fuel tank, a 45 kW range extender, and a 45 kW electric generator under the rear seating. Such serial hybrid car can sell for $24,000 under the VW brand without autopilot. Was it produced by Renault and branded Dacia, it could sell for 20% less. Such hybrid car will automatically recharge at home or at the office, just like a robotized lawnmower, using electricity that’s billed $0.10 to $0.15 per kWh depending on the country. The allowed continuous 4C discharge rate and the allowed 6C peaks allow such hybrid car to run 50 miles (80 km) in pure electric mode, without any stress, in case there is no need to run faster than 50 mph (80 km/h). The speed gets limited at 100 mph (160 km/h). EU governments should subsidize serial hybrid cars and photovoltaic panels, and penalize pure electric cars.

1 month ago

why would you hope to ruin tesla? the only reason these companies make electrics is to compete with tesla. tesla showed the whole world how much better electrics can be. they are teaching the world what software integration can be like on a car. why “hopefully ruin” them? you work for ac-delco infotainment or something?

1 month ago


i am new here. how are you reporting prices? “excluding gov’t grant” but in china, are we including sales tax to make it like europe? $36500eur seems cheaper than usa version after the subsidy! I can only imagine the chinese have a sales tax too.

1 month ago
Reply to  bananapeal


“Electrified vehicles will also continue to be exempt from a 10 percent sales tax through the end of 2022.”