LG Supplying batteries at Tesla GF3? Really?

Discussion in 'Tesla' started by David Green, Aug 23, 2019.

  1. David Green

    David Green Well-Known Member

    Ok, now this is funny, after years of listening to Tesla fans talk about how Tesla makes their own batteries, and they have a grand mote, now its little old LG Chem that has been picked to supply batteries? You mean LG, the same company that made the battery cells in my E-Tron? You mean LG the ones that give Audi and others a competitive disadvantage to Tesla? My My My, I cannot wait for Bob to attempt to spin this to a positive...

  2. Roy_H

    Roy_H Active Member

    Thought it was worth copying your response here. I think most of the benefits you show are derived from the packaging and not necessarily the cells themselves.

    The question I have is, will the LG Chem cells be custom versions according to Tesla specs, or will they be one of the standard types offered by LG Chem? And maybe I am biased, but I don't think there is a whole lot of difference, so even if Tesla uses standard LG Chem cells, they can add a few more cells to the standard range plus pack and still have room. This way there is no perceived loss in performance.
  3. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Having attended the Munro & Associates EV Conference with their handout booklet a foot away from my computer, we'll have to agree to disagree. They pointed out there is no standardization of battery packs. But one comment about price: cells < modules < pouch. To engineer a battery pack takes a substantial amount of engineering time and costs which Tesla has a 5-10 year lead. Building cells is well established technology (i.e., cheap) and can be used in a lot of different products. In contrast modules are not standard nor are pouches.

    Absent hard engineering data, I'll go with Munroe & Associates:

    They have hands-on experience from tearing down EV cars.

    Bob Wilson
    papab likes this.
  4. Roy_H

    Roy_H Active Member

    ?? I think that is what I said, the packaging (or modules if you wish) is the primary difference, not the cells (or more specifically the cell chemistry in terms of cost and energy density). I think we agree on that point.
  5. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    Tesla is using NCA (Nickel Cobalt Aluminum) chemistry in the 2170 cells instead of NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt) the honorable competition claims. I suspect the 18650 cells of the Model S/X were NMC.

    Bob Wilson
  6. Roy_H

    Roy_H Active Member

    The Panasonic 18650 batteries for the Models S & X (and I believe the original Roadster) are NCA not NMC.
    I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla has any special tweeks for it's 2170 cells that they would also be applied to the 18650 cells made for Tesla in Japan.
    Why do you think that LG Chem only makes one type? Just because Tesla chooses to buy the NMC type from them for its Powerwall products doesn't mean that NCA aren't available.
  7. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    For political reasons, it would have made no sense for Tesla to choose Panasonic to supply battery cells to Tesla's Shanghai Gigafactory. This has nothing to do with the quality or cost of the cells, but rather the political reality that Panasonic is a Japanese company, and there is and has been a long-running enmity between Japan and China that stretches back centuries. That's almost certainly not going to disappear any time soon.

    In fact, it hasn't been that long ago since China temporarily banned sales of cars containing battery cells which were not sourced from China. This affected not only Panasonic cells, but also cells sourced from S. Korea, which includes LG Chem. LG at least now has factories in China making cells, so hopefully that situation won't arise again (knock on wood!)

    A big reason why Tesla has been given "most favored" status by the Chinese Communist central government is Elon Musk's personal friendship with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. That's how Tesla became the first foreign auto maker to be given permission to build an auto assembly plant in China that's not majority co-owned by a Chinese company. Elon Musk is wise not to choose Panasonic, or any other Japanese company, as a main supplier for Tesla cars made in China. Not if he wants Tesla to keep its "most favored company" status! Picking Panasonic or some other Japanese supplier for a critical parts of Tesla cars, such as the Panasonic cells made at Tesla's Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, would be a good way to upset the Chinese, and would likely be seen by them as a slap in the face. It would be rather foolish of Tesla to "upset the apple cart" like that.

    * * * * * *

    Now, can LG Chem make battery cells as good for Tesla's cars as Panasonic? I don't know... and neither does anyone else posting here. Major battery cell makers, including Panasonic, LG Chem, and Samsung, are fiercely competitive. Maybe Panasonic's cell chemistry is slightly better for Tesla's purposes, or maybe back in the day, Tesla chose Panasonic simply because they gave them a better price per kWh for their cells. I don't know... and again, neither does anyone else posting comments here. Auto makers and cell makers keep details about their cells and their prices as proprietary info; as trade secrets.

    But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that LG Chem will make NCA cells for Tesla; cells which can't quite match the performance of Panasonic's cells, and/or that they are slightly higher per kWh in price. After all, LG's innovation in lithium-ion batteries has been with the lower energy density NMC chemistry, not the higher energy density NCA chemistry that Panasonic uses in the cells made for Tesla. So it's plausible that LG Chem, in making NCA cells for Tesla, won't be able to quite match the performance of Panasonic's cells.

    However, Tesla has said that at least for the near future, the Shanghai Gigafactory will make only the Standard Range trim levels of the Model 3 and the forthcoming Model Y. Those cars will have extra room inside the battery packs, which were designed to hold a Long Range battery pack with more cells. Even if LG's cells have a lower energy density, Tesla can simply increase the number of cells per pack to make up for the lower energy density. Also, even if LG Chem's price per kWh is slightly higher, the prices for locally sourced batteries would be less expensive than importing cells from Tesla's Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, due to shipping costs alone. Batteries are heavy! And possibly an even bigger advantage in lower prices comes with avoiding any tariffs on imported battery cells, which Tesla would have to pay if it imported cells from Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. I think most readers here are aware of the current state of escalating trade war between the U.S. and China; obviously Tesla wants to avoid that as much as possible! In fact, the trade war was likely the biggest motivation for Tesla building the Shanghai Gigafactory before a European Gigafactory, and the motive for making sure construction proceeded as fast as humanly possible.

    Furthermore, given that energy density in li-ion cells keeps incrementally advancing year on year, it's reasonable to assume that LG Chem should be able to match, within a year or two, what Panasonic had achieved back when the Model 3 was new, in 2017. That is, if they haven't done so already. Given how fiercely competitive these companies are, it wouldn't surprise me if LG Chem's 2019 NCA chemistry can match Panasonic's 2017 NCA chemistry. Likely Panasonic is still the leader in NCA chemistry; we know that the newer, "Raven" versions of the Model S and Model Y have cells with improved energy density. I rather doubt LG Chem can match that... but it doesn't need to. Using two-plus year old chemistry will be perfectly fine for Tesla Model 3's (and eventually Model Y's) made in China; that still puts Tesla far ahead of other auto makers in EV tech. Tesla doesn't have any near-term plans for making the Model S or Model X in China.

    So, is Tesla choosing LG Chem over Panasonic to supply the Shanghai Gigafactory an indication that there is no truth to the claim that Panasonic's cell chemistry is superior for Tesla's purposes? That is, for the type of high energy density cells that Tesla uses in its cars? Well, of course not! That's just one more bit of bull pucky, just another case of twisting truth into falsehoods, from our resident Tesla basher, Mr. "Green".
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  8. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I think there is a very important difference between LG's lower energy density NMC cells and Panasonic's NCA cells. Higher energy density lets Tesla stuff more kWh into a smaller space, and the difference isn't trivial at all.

    My assessment is that LG Chem, just like Pansonic, will make cells to Tesla's exact specifications. I would be stunned if Tesla buys "off the shelf" cells from LG Chem. Doubly so since Tesla's design for the Model 3 battery pack uses a non-standard "2170" (or 21700) cylindrical form factor. So far as I know, LG Chem doesn't make cylindrical cells at all. Presumably that's about to change!

    Would Tesla completely redesign the Model 3 battery pack to use the pouch cells or "prismatic" (block-shaped) cells that LG Chem makes? I think that is extremely unlikely. Tesla has been using cylindrical cells from the very beginning, and obviously they are quite comfortable with that form factor.

    It makes far more sense for LG Chem to make what is, for them, a new type of cell for Tesla, than for Tesla to abandon its cutting-edge tech design for battery packs. Tesla's battery pack designs have served Tesla very, very well. The advanced design of the Model 3 battery pack gives the Model 3 the fastest-charging battery packs in the industry! I don't see Tesla abandoning that anytime soon.

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but this is incorrect.

    A relevant quote:

    Different car makers use different cathode chemistries for lithium ion batteries, Tesla uses NCA chemistry, or Nickel, Cobalt, and Aluminium (LiNiCoAlO2). They use this particular chemistry because it offers great energy density, long cycle life, and great charge performance. This makes Tesla’s batteries the absolute top of the line in the EV world. They weigh less, last longer, and power the performance of things like Ludicrous mode.

    Tesla’s Batteries have gone through 3 stages: Stage 1 was from 2009-2012 found in the Roadster and Model S. Stage 2 was from 2016-2018 and powered the Model S Gen II, and the Model X. Stage 3 starts with the Model 3 in 2018.

    Stage 1 batteries were constructed with 18650 cells, which are 18 mm wide, and 65 mm tall. They had a NCA formulation that required 11kgs of Cobalt in the cathode, per car. They had a pure graphite anode, with no Silicon.

    Stage 2 batteries used the same 18650 cells, but reduced the amount of Cobalt required in the cathode from 11 to just 7kg/car. They also introduced a small amount of silicon into their anode.

    Stage 3 batteries are new for Tesla, and first shipped with the Model 3. Stage 3 batteries have further reduced the amount of cobalt to just around 4.5kg per vehicle. They also have a hybrid silicon/graphite anode, and while proprietary and unreported, probably higher silicon content than their stage 2 batteries.
    Source: "Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Tesla Batteries"

    * * * * *

    An unfortunate side effect of Tesla using the higher energy density NCA cell chemistry is that a few Tesla cars have had the battery pack instantly burst into flames as a result of severe physical damage in a collision at excessive speed. Note this has been reported several times with the Model S, and it's one of the indications that Tesla uses NCA chemistry. NMC chemistry is far less prone to "thermal runaway events" when the battery pack is damaged.

  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber

    After reviewing my source, I agree NCA since the beginning:

    • 1:26 - Start
    Bob Wilson
  11. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Cells with a higher energy density can be put in a smaller space. That means the car can be smaller and less expensive.

    For cells from the top brands, such as Panasonic, Samsung, and LG Chem, I agree that likely the most important difference between different brand names on the cell is probably the price, and not any subtle differences in chemistry.

    However, that's not true for all brands of cells. The cells Nissan was using in the Leaf, the cells from AESC, were/are definitely inferior. That's why Nissan had such a hard time finding a buyer when it wanted to sell off its battery cell making division.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2019
  12. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    Ack! That should read "Model S and Model X", not "...and Model Y"!

    Did I mention that I'm regretting suggesting to Domenick that editing of posts be cut off in this forum after only an hour or two? Yeah, I may have mentioned that...
  13. ralphie_boy

    ralphie_boy New Member

    Hi, I'm a newbie to this particular forum. But I have been doing a lot of study on Tesla and its technology. In fact I arrived here by researching what the difference might be in the LG Chem-based and Panasonic-based batteries. Shanghai factory produced Tesla cars reportedly will use the LG Chem source.

    Somebody above wrote cells < modules < pouch. This is basically true. But there are so many wrinkles to the whole thing. For one, Tesla's modules are actually modular down to the cell level. Whereas pouch batteries are like laptop batteries, only larger. They are not modular enough. This is the mistake BMW made with the I3.

    Look at the Nissan Leaf, which as late as 2019 model was not using active cooling. Its range has been documented to decline significantly over a short period (1-3 years). So even if Tesla used exactly the same batteries, it would outperform the Leaf easily. Another wrinkle is the battery controller, which manages the batteries and makes decisions, down to the cell level, about how to maintain battery health. Tesla is way ahead on that also, there is a lot of software smarts in its controller.
  14. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I wrote above that I thought LG Chem would be making NCA chemistry cells to Tesla's specifications, to supply the Shanghai Gigafactory. More recently I've seen it reported that LG will be delivering NMC cells to Tesla, for the Chinese-made Model 3. So it appears I was wrong about that.

    I still think it's more likely that LG will be making cylindrical cells for Tesla. The cooling system which Tesla uses in the Model 3 is designed for cylindrical cells, and they would have to completely redesign that to use pouch cells. Other BEVs (such as the Chevy Bolt) do use pouch cells from LG Chem, but the Bolt has a different pack architecture with a very different design for the cooling system. It is of course possible that Tesla could be using a very different design for the battery pack produced in China, but I rather doubt they would go that far outside their experience and their engineering comfort zone.

    Again, that's just my assessment of what seems to be most likely based on publicly available facts and info, and I could again be mistaken.

    Roy_H likes this.
  15. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    This is a subject about which I knew a lot more. There are indications that, as you say, Tesla can monitor and control individual cells in their packs. Yet those who have done disassembly or tear-down of Tesla pack report that the individual cells are connected only by the (positive and negative) fusible links used to charge and discharge the cell. So how would it be possible for Tesla to control cells on an individual level?

    Others have suggested that Tesla's BMS (Battery Management System) monitors and controls "strings", or groups of cells in parallel, rather than on an individual basis. Yet Tesla claims to be able to isolate individual malfunctioning cells, presumably disconnecting them using the fusible links.

    "Is... a... puzzlement!" -- King Mongkut, "The King and I"
  16. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web Well-Known Member Subscriber


    This had me scratching my head as "NMC" did not make sense:
    Source: https://ww.electrek.co/2019/09/23/t...s-chinese-model-3-lg-mass-production-report/#

    Tesla consumes both NCA and NMC battery cells, but they only use the former for their electric vehicles and the latter for stationary energy storage products, like Powerwalls and Powerpacks.

    If the new report is accurate, it would be the first time that Tesla uses NMC battery cells in its vehicles.
    . . .
    We recently reported on Tesla applying for a patent for a new longer-lasting battery cell with better performance and it is based on an NMC battery cell and they said it could be used both in stationary energy storage products and electric vehicles.

    Speculation, it may be the NCA chemistry is patent protected from LG Chem. But China has access to cobalt supplies and perhaps less 'sensitive' to cobalt mining practices.

    Bob Wilson
  17. Pushmi-Pullyu

    Pushmi-Pullyu Well-Known Member

    I think it's likely that Panasonic does have either patents or industrial secrets, or both, on its specific formulation for NCA chemistry. That doesn't mean that LG Chem can't make NCA cells, but that certainly isn't their area of expertise or experience. In other words, it's not their comfort zone, and no doubt LG would rather stick to NMC. Also, it's entirely possible they would have to charge Tesla higher prices than Tesla would want to pay for such cells.

    Let's not forget that LG Chem is a S. Korean company, not a Chinese one, altho they have started making battery cells in China. However, it would not at all surprise me if LG Chem isn't nearly as careful as Panasonic is to buy cobalt from non-conflict sources. And if LG Chem is supplying its Chinese factories with cobalt from Chinese sources, then we can be pretty sure that there's little or no effort made to keep cobalt sourced from "conflict zones" out of the mix.

  18. Roy_H

    Roy_H Active Member

    I would remove "strings" from your statement as strings implies series connection. I agree with "groups of cells in parallel".
    Tesla does claim to be able to remove individual malfunctioning cells, and I agree with them being removed by the fuse blowing because a partially shorted cell passed too much current. Both statements make sense and are not in conflict with each other. Your use of "Yet" suggests that you think there is a link between the two, I think they are completely separate safety or control systems.

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