Tesla's LFP (iron) batteries compared. Which one should you buy?

By Henry Farkas

For the first time, you have a choice of battery for your new Tesla. Not battery size, you've always had that choice. Now you have a choice of which chemical elements you want. Here are some thoughts about how you can choose intelligently. It all depends on your financial situation, your plans for long-distance travel, and the geography of your area.

Tesla's Iron and Nickel based batteries

Elon Musk explains Tesla's LFP Battery strategy for US Model 3 SR+.

There's a delay in delivery times for the Model 3 SR+. This is August 2021. Delivery dates are some time in 2022. If you're buying one of the more expensive models or one of the bigger battery sizes, you can take delivery sooner, but the Model 3 SR+ might be the one you want. It's the one I bought. I knew that road trips would take a bit longer with the shorter-range battery since I'd have to pull off the road to charge more often. So far, I haven't had the opportunity to take a multi-day road trip. There's a pandemic after all. But I knew that would eventually become an issue. I really like road trips. But I have to say, even when I took lots of road trips, most of my driving was local.

Had I opted for the long-range Model 3, I'd have paid an extra ten thousand dollars in order to get 90 miles of extra range. That extra ninety miles of range would come into play only 30 or 40 days each year, and the time it would save me would be about an hour each day of a multi-day road trip. It didn't make financial sense.

Now that Tesla is experiencing the same production delays as are all the other auto manufacturers, they're giving their shorter delivery dates to buyers of the more expensive, read higher profit, models. But they're making an exception and giving shorter delivery dates if you buy a Tesla with an LFP battery rather than an NCA battery.

So what's the difference? Both batteries are actually lithium-ion batteries. They both use lithium. So that's not a difference. But the NCA battery uses nickel, cobalt, and aluminum in addition to lithium. The LFP battery uses Iron and Phosphate (phosphorus combined with oxygen) in addition to lithium. The main differences for you to consider are that the LFP battery has a slightly shorter range, 253 miles, as opposed to the NCA battery, 263 miles. But that slight difference in range is deceptive. The NCA battery probably shouldn't be charged to 100%. Fully charging the battery causes damage to the battery making it likely to deteriorate over the years of ownership. It's perfectly fine to charge the LFP battery to 100% so the driver experience is pretty much the same except for a couple caveats.

Iron and Nickel based batteries cost comparison

The LFP battery is heavier. That's why the range is slightly lower on the ordinary battery test cycle. The extra weight causes extra rolling resistance. That's why the range is reduced. There's probably also some extra wear on the tires. The problems of extra weight and extra rolling resistance are probably not all that bothersome for most drivers.

But, if you live in an area where there are lots of hills so that you're changing your elevation every time you drive, you're going to notice a much more pronounced decrease in range with the heavier LFP battery. You can experience the difference more intimately by getting a wagon or a wheelbarrow. Roll it around on level ground. Then put a heavy object in it and roll it around some more. You'll notice a bit more rolling resistance, but you'll be able to deal with the extra rolling resistance easily.

Now do that same experiment on a hill. Pull the wagon or push the wheelbarrow up the hill empty. No problem, right? Then put in the heavy object and go up the hill again. Big difference. Your car feels the same way. You'll get a bit of extra regenerative braking going down the hill with the heavier battery, but it won't be enough to make up the difference. The second law of thermodynamics causes that. That pesky high school physics topic, entropy, strikes again.

LFP batteries are also much more environmentally friendly.

There's also one more issue, cold weather.

LFP batteries charge more slowly in cold weather than NCA batteries and their range decreases somewhat more than NCA batteries in cold weather. Keep in mind that both NCA and LFP do worse in cold weather. It's just that LFP batteries get more of a cold weather effect than NCA batteries. When you're on a road trip and navigating to a Supercharger, your car will prewarm its batteries. That will alleviate the slower charging problem to some extent, but you'll be at the Supercharger six or seven minutes longer in winter with LFP batteries. That will be a problem if you plan to use your car in such a way as to need to do lots of cold weather supercharging. It won't matter at all if you're just going to charge your car overnight in your garage.

So flatlanders will be fine with the LFP battery. If you live in a hilly area, you may want to wait for the NCA-equipped Tesla Model 3 SR+. But remember, the lower range problem is only a problem for people planning to do lots of mountain driving. In that case, you actually ought to invest the extra $10K in the long range Model 3.

One last issue about the LFP battery. Remember, earlier in this article, I mentioned that you shouldn't fill the NCA battery up to 100% charge, but you should fill the LFP battery up to 100%? That's true at home, but it's not true on road trips. On road trips, you want to minimize the amount of time you're stopped. The way to do that is to never charge the battery to 100% no matter which kind of battery you have. When you plug your car in at a modern high voltage supercharger, you'll see your car adding four to five hundred miles per hour of connection. That doesn't mean you'll be up to 100% in a half hour. You won't. As the battery gets charged, the rate of charge drops significantly for both the LFP and the NCA batteries. Once you get above 80%, the battery charges very slowly. So figure out how much charge you need to get you to the next place you're going to charge up and give yourself enough charge to get you there with a twenty or thirty mile cushion. Charging your battery more than that is a waste of time. Your travel time.

Tesla's Battery Day

Henry Farkas is a retired country doctor. He bought his Tesla Model 3 in the middle of the pandemic.

Tesla will now automatically reroute you to less busy Superchargers in 2022.16

By Gabe Rodriguez Morrison
Tesla will now reroute you to less busy Superchargers
Tesla will now reroute you to less busy Superchargers
@cybrtrkguy/Twitter (Edited by NATA)

If you don't have enough range to reach your destination, Tesla’s in-car navigation system will automatically calculate where you should stop in order to charge.

If the Supercharger you’re set to arrive at is suddenly too busy, Tesla's navigation will now reroute you to another Supercharger location that's within range.

This was first noticed in the 2022.16 update by @greentheonly, but owners are now seeing it in action.

According to a recent tweet by @cybrtrkguy, which shows a picture of their trip planner and the message, “Rerouting to a less busy Supercharger” in Sheffield, Ohio.

Tesla drivers will now know when a Supercharge station is congested and will have the option to change their route to reduce their total travel time.

Not only does Tesla know exactly how many vehicles are charging at each location. It also knows the charge level of each vehicle and it could estimate the wait time for a Supercharger based on how many Teslas are nearby with a low state of charge.

Based on all of this information Tesla can come up with great suggestions on the best place to charge to reduce your overall trip time.

Tesla’s Supercharger rerouting feature will be useful, especially as Tesla starts opening its Supercharger sites to non-Tesla vehicles.

Tesla recently chose to open up the Supercharger network to other car brands, which could add additional Supercharger congestion.

Update 2022.16.2

Installed on 27% of cars
147 install(s) today
Last updated: Jun 30, 6:16 am

In fact, Tesla now plans to add CCS (Combined Charging System) plugs to US-based Superchargers in order to make them even more compatible with other EV manufacturers.

With over 30,000 Superchargers (3,500 stations) reported at the end of 2021, Tesla undoubtedly operates the largest and most successful fast-charging networks.

While Tesla plans to solve Supercharger congestion by tripling the size of its network in the next few years, this new navigation feature will certainly help alleviate some Supercharger congestion.

This isn’t the only recent change to how Tesla calculates your route. In the 2022.16.2 software update, Tesla added forecasted crosswind, headwind, humidity and ambient temperature to improve its range calculations even further.

Tesla Model 3 lands in the Top 10 best sellers globally

By Lennon Cihak
Tesla Model 3 is in the Top 10 best selling cars of 2021
Tesla Model 3 is in the Top 10 best selling cars of 2021

Tesla’s Model 3 has landed a spot as the ninth best-selling car in the world for 2021, which is up 40% from 2020, according to Fiat Group World. The Model 3 accounted for 508,000 unit sales in 2021.

According to the data provided by Fiat Group World, the Toyota RAV4/Wildlander came in at number one, which is up from the second spot in 2020. The Ford F-150 pickup truck landed at number seven, down from the number 6 spot in 2020.

Toyota and Honda have four vehicles in the top 11 spots, while Nissan, Ford, and Tesla only have one spot.

Fiat Group World notes that the Tesla Model 3 continues to rise within the list and is expected to rank in the top five by the end of this year.

Additionally, the author adds that the Model Y is expected to outsell the Model 3 by the end of 2022, which means both the Model 3 and Model Y would both sit in the top five spots. The Model Y currently sits at the 19th spot on the list, which means the Model Y accounted for 392,000 sales in 2021. It rose from the 262nd spot, or 412%, from 2020.

It’s worth noting that the Model Y began its deliveries in 2020, which explains the significant jump in 2021. Earlier this year, it won U.S. News’ Best Luxury Electric SUV award.

Of the 110 vehicles included, the Model S and Model X did not make the cut. This is most likely due to their higher price tag.

With this data available and Fiat Group World’s insights, it’s entirely possible for the Model Y to overtake the Model 3 this year. And with Tesla constantly adding new features and bringing back ‘Enhanced Autopilot,’ consumers will likely jump on-board.

Tesla brought back Enhanced Autopilot to the US and Canada last week for $6,000 (USD), half of what Full Self-Driving does.

The Model 3 and Model Y may soon get a rear display for entertainment. A tweet from Tesla enthusiast and software developer @greentheonly discovered that Model 3s and Model Ys with the new AMD processors have the bandwidth for a second display, like the new refreshed Model S and Model Xs have.

Tesla is currently battling global supply chain restraints, and Musk said at Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum that these restraints are a bigger issue than competition from other competitive automakers.

“Our constraints are much. More in raw materials and being able to scale up productions,” Musk says.

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Tesla News

Upcoming Release

View the release notes for the upcoming version 2022.16.2.

Confirmed by Elon

Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

Days Until Next Release

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We expect version 2022.20 to be released imminently.

Subscribe to be notified when new software is released.

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