Tesla made $ 1.6 billion in the third quarter, is switching to LFP batteries globally

Enlarge / A Tesla factory.

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Tesla made a profit of $ 1.6 billion in the third quarter of 2021. It built 237,823 cars and delivered 241,391 cars in the process, ending the third quarter with $ 1.3 billion in free cash flow and $ 16 billion in cash and equivalents. of cash. Surprisingly, these record results came despite supply chain problems such as clogged ports and semiconductor shortages.

On your presentation to investorsTesla said record production coupled with domestic cost reductions have more than offset a small drop in the average selling price of its cars. It now has an operating margin of 14.6 percent, beating its previous guidance.

The Models 3 and Y did most of the heavy lifting. Tesla built 228,882 of these battery electric vehicles and delivered 232,102 of them. The Model S and X numbers were up a lot compared to the second quarter of 2021, with 8,941 built and 9,289 delivered, but this time last year they sold almost twice as much.

Tesla’s solar energy and storage businesses are moving forward, deploying almost the same amount of solar energy (83 GW) and slightly more battery storage (1,295 MWh) in the third quarter than in the second quarter of this year.

Cheaper, longer-lasting battery packs

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information at the inverter presentation was the news that Tesla is changing the battery chemistry for all standard-range 3 and Y models. Until now, most Teslas have used batteries with a nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) chemistry. But it recently began offering an alternative using older technology that uses lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry. (Most other BEVs use a nickel, manganese, and cobalt chemistry.)


LFP cells are cheaper than NCA or NMC cells and have a much longer lifespan, with lower energy density being the trade-off. However, that might not really be a disadvantage, although each individual cell contains less energy, the much less volatile nature of LFPs means that there is no need to worry about thermal runaway in the event of a crash. And that, in turn, means that an LFP battery pack needs to waste much less volume on cooling and structural protection to keep the cells separate, which means that the energy density at the pack level should compensate. (On the downside, LFP cells don’t do as well in very cold weather.)

Until now, intellectual property restrictions have kept LFP cells primarily within China. But export restrictions will be eased next year, and Tesla got approval from the Chinese government to start using LFP batteries in BEVs made in China in 2020. Last month, it began asking American customers if they would accept range cars. standard with LFP packages. instead of NCA; Now it makes that change mandatory for all regions.

Tesla has not said which company will supply it with the LFP cells, but it has current contracts with CATL, one of the main sources of LFP cells in China.



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