Tesla is in negotiations with CATL to use its cobalt-free batteries in its vehicles produced in Shanghai Gigafactory 3.
Cobalt is a precious metal that is also obtained mostly in mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which working conditions are subhuman, and even child labor is used. Because of this, more and more manufacturers are trying to reduce their dependence on cobalt, something that will also reduce the price of batteries.
Tesla barely uses 3% cobalt in its batteries; However, Elon Musk announced in 2018 that his intention was for the next generation of cells used by the automaker to vanish the use of this material.
Thanks to CATL’s cobalt-free technology, Tesla will be able to further reduce the production costs of its vehicles in Shanghai Gigafactory 3, something that will be vital in a context in which the Chinese car market has entered into recession. Initially, both the Korean LG Chem and Chinese CATL will supply cells for Tesla assembled in China.
CATL will supply LFP (lithium ferrophosphate) batteries to Tesla, the great advantage of LFP batteries is their lower cost and longer life; in return, they offer lower capacity than other lithium-ion batteries.
Tesla is expected to hold an event throughout April to publicize its future strategy in the field of batteries. Possibly during this event, more details of both Tesla’s alliance with CATL (and probably also its other dealings with LG Chem and Panasonic) and its plans to become an independent battery manufacturer in the future are known.