BYD Gears Up to Supply EV Batteries to Tesla

Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD has announced that it will begin supplying EV batteries to American electric vehicle giant Tesla. According to a statement from BYD’s executive vice president to broadcaster CGTN, the company is now “good friends” with Elon Musk and is preparing to start supplying his company with electric vehicle batteries.

For the past couple of months, there have been rumors about an impending deal between BYD and Tesla, which the Chinese automaker has denied. Last October, reported that BYD had secured a contract for 10 GWh worth of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery packs and would start deliveries in the second quarter of 2022, but BYD did not comment.

A few months before that in August, unofficial sources said a deal brewing between BYD and Tesla would see BYD supply the American electric vehicle maker with blade batteries. BYD did not comment on the rumors.

Now the company has given official confirmation that it intends to begin manufacturing batteries for Tesla. However, BYD has yet to provide any details on the expected timeframes, types of batteries, volumes or the products that will use the batteries.

Based on the interest Tesla has shown in BYD’s blade battery cells and cell-to-pack (CTP) technology, one can only guess that the deal between the two companies involves this technology. The question is whether Tesla will receive the early-version technology or the latest version with a cell-to-body (CTB) structural battery system.

The latest version of the technology was first used in BYD’s all-new Seal model, which is expected to start shipping to customers in the next couple of months. The CTB structural battery system consists of four sections of the blade battery, which are combined and become part of the vehicle’s structure. This configuration increases structural safety by 50% and battery pack utilization by 66%, BYD has revealed.

With Tesla choosing to make a shift to LFP battery chemistries in all its standard range EVs, it may choose to use BYD’s blade batteries in its electric vehicles. On the other hand, Tesla may be planning to use this technology in battery energy storage systems such as the Tesla Megapack, a large-scale, rechargeable, lithium-ion battery designed for stationary power storage.

At the moment, Tesla sources its batteries from several suppliers, including Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL) and Panasonic, and uses several battery chemistries and cell form factors. Without concrete information from Tesla, we can only guess how it intends to implement BYD’s groundbreaking battery technology.

The EV sector is evolving rapidly, especially with regards to battery chemistry. It may not be surprising if other manufacturers such as QuantumScape Corp. come up with their own innovations in this respect and try to beat BYD and other battery giants at their own game.

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