Report: Tesla will change battery chemistry for Model Y in China

Tesla Model Y electric cars built in China will soon start using a new battery chemistry from LG Chem, according to South Korean newspaper Business Korea (via Electrek). LG will supply NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminum) cathode material to Tesla for Chinese Model Y production beginning in July, the report said. This reportedly marks LG’s […]

Tesla Model Y electric cars built in China will soon start using a new battery chemistry from LG Chem, according to South Korean newspaper Business Korea (via Electrek).

LG will supply NCMA (nickel, cobalt, manganese, aluminum) cathode material to Tesla for Chinese Model Y production beginning in July, the report said. This reportedly marks LG’s first commercial production of the NCMA cathode material.

That material is 90% nickel, with reduced cobalt content, according to the report. Aluminum was used in place of some of the cobalt, a material that has become controversial due to issues related to mining and supply availability.

LG will also supply an NCMA battery for General Motors, as part of the joint-venture Ultium Cells LLC—and in a large pouch format.

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y

GM arch rival Ford also plans to use battery cathodes with nearly 90% nickel content, but it will get them from SK Innovation, which is building a large battery factory in Commerce, Georgia. SK’s “Nickel 9” chemistry includes 5% cobalt and 5% manganese, but no aluminum.

Tesla has already substituted LFP batteries for China-made Model 3 sedans. It has also indicated that its new 4680 cell format will be a big part of the company’s future for more energy-dense products like the Semi and Cybertruck. So Tesla is varying both the chemistry and the physical size of its cells.

While Tesla renewed its commitment with longtime battery supplier Panasonic last year, it seems LG might get more of the automaker’s business in the future.

A March report suggested LG was also seeking to build 2170-format cells—the kind used in current Tesla EVs—in the United States, indicating the two firms’ collaboration might not be limited to Chinese-market vehicles.