Tesla Model 3 refresh to bring a CATL battery boost

Max McDee, 29 June 2023

Tesla is set to give Model 3 a facelift, enhancing its battery power among other improvements. The upgraded base model, sporting rear-wheel drive, will be utilizing Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd's (CATL) new M3P lithium iron phosphate battery. In what can be seen as a significant upgrade, the battery capacity will go up from 60 kWh to 66 kWh.

Consistent with its previous approach, Tesla continues its tradition of upgrading batteries with every model refresh. For instance, the standard range version of the China-made Model 3 was previously upgraded from 55 kWh to 60 kWh.

Tesla Model 3 Highland boosts its battery power

The new 66 kWh battery pack is not exclusive to the new Model 3. Future modifications of the Model Y can also utilize this improved battery. This enhancement is projected to increase the driving range of the China-made Model 3. Currently, the rear-drive version has a WLTP range of 317 miles (EPA 267 miles), which is set to rise with the added 6 kWh battery capacity.

The upgraded Model 3, codenamed 'Highland,' is expected to hit the market in the third quarter of this year. Tesla's factory in Shanghai, the world's largest Tesla production site, will be responsible for production of this model. The factory, which currently produces the Model 3 and Model Y, boasts an annual capacity of approximately 1.1 million vehicles.

Earlier this year, Tesla was reported to be making alterations to its Shanghai plant to accommodate the Model 3 facelift, a project also known as 'Highland.' The production of refreshed Model 3 is set to commence in September, reflecting Tesla's commitment to innovation and market competitiveness.

Artist's impression of what the Model 3 Highland may look like - courtesy of @CYBRTRK420 Artist's impression of what the Model 3 Highland may look like - courtesy of @CYBRTRK420

'Highland' is seen as an initiative to reduce production costs and enhance the attractiveness of the electric sedan, which first appeared in 2017. But the Model 3 isn't the only vehicle being reworked. Tesla is also set to upgrade the Model Y, both interior and exterior, under a project known as 'Juniper.' Production of this renewed Model Y is expected to begin in 2024.

The forthcoming Model 3 promises a sportier and sleeker design, with a slightly longer body and updated interior, compared to the current version. There were also whispers last August about CATL supplying M3P batteries to Tesla. This speculation seems to be confirmed, as CATL will start supplying these batteries to Tesla in the fourth quarter. They will be featured in Model Y using 72 kWh packs.

A key element of the M3P battery is the lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP) material, supplied by Shenzhen Dynanonic Co. Despite Tesla also developing LMFP batteries, due to a lengthy development cycle, it will initially source these batteries from suppliers.

Yet another render based on spy photos of the Model 3 Highland Yet another render based on spy photos of the Model 3 Highland

The LMFP batteries are an improvent over the lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, with cathode materials made by adding manganese to the currently used LFP. The M3P batteries' cathode materials, enhanced with lithium ternary materials and LMFP materials, solve previous issues of short cycle life and high internal resistance associated with LMFP batteries.

The all-new Model 3, equipped with the new M3P batteries, is projected to improve its driving range by at least 10 percent. This could take the vehicle's range closer to 373 miles - a decent improvement from the current 317 miles WLTP rating.


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