In the not-too-distant future, Tesla might be equipping its electric cars produced at the Giga Shanghai plant with CATL's new battery type, called M3P.
According to Sina Tech's unofficial sources (via CnEVPost), Tesla will soon equip the MIC Model 3 with CATL M3P batteries, which is expected to increase range by at least 10%. The switch from LFP to M3P also has the potential for a price reduction (assuming the same battery capacity).
Currently, the MIC Tesla Model 3 RWD has a CLTC range of 556 km (346 miles), while the Performance version can go up to 675 km (420 miles). The article says that with M3P, it could be respectively 600 km (373 miles) and 700 km (435 miles).
Of course, if the use of the M3P battery type would be beneficial to the Model 3, we can expect that the Model Y (at least the entry-level version) will also get it. There was an unofficial report about a 72 kWh MP3 battery for the Model Y coming in Q4 2022.
Nonetheless, as of now, there is no official confirmation about the rumors.
CATL M3P vs LMFP and LFP
The news about the CATL M3P battery chemistry emerged in July, following reports about the lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) batter cell chemistry.
The LMFP chemistry is a more advanced LFP battery chemistry (lithium iron phosphate), with an addition of manganese to the cathode to boost the theoretical energy density to 230 Wh/kg (by about 15-20% over standard LFP), at a meaningless cost difference.
According to CnEVPost, CATL is interested in mass production of this type "within this year." Moreover, multiple manufacturers - including CATL, Sunwoda and Eve Energy - have reportedly completed the interim tests of LMFP cells and are sending samples to automakers.
The report mentions that BYD and Gotion High-tech are also involved in the LMFP chemistry (BYD actually restarted its development from 2013-2016, previously terminated due to insufficient cycle life and high internal resistance).
The LMFP might actually be a new starting point for an even more advanced battery type when the iron (F) is replaced with some other materials (like magnesium, zinc and aluminum). This is where CATL M3P comes into play - it's a more complex cathode chemistry than basic LMFP.
"M3P battery uses the olivine structure of LFP as the base lattice structure, replacing iron at some points by doping two of the metallic elements including magnesium, zinc and aluminum, according to a recent research note by Shengang Securities.
This design generates a ternary material in the phosphate system to improve charge/discharge capacity and cycle stability, according to the note.
The M3P synthesis process is built on the lithium manganese iron phosphate process, but it is more mature and suitable for mass production..."
Separate reports say that the CATL M3P is expected on the market in 2023 to bring a higher energy density over LFP. It would not match the NCM type, but the price will remain lower. In general, the M3P is designed for vehicles with a driving range of up to about 700 km (435 miles) CLTC.