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

Tesla Looks to Add New Full Self-Driving and Premium Connectivity Plans in Canada

By Kevin Armstrong
FSD subscription may be coming to Canada
FSD subscription may be coming to Canada

Tesla may soon support a monthly FSD subscription and the Premium Connectivity annual plan for Canadian customers. The possible move was discussed on X as Tesla’s Vice President of Public Policy and Business Development, Rohan Patel, responded to inquiries.

FSD Beta Subscription in Canada

The potential introduction of the FSD beta subscription in Canada represents a notable evolution in Tesla’s FSD pricing. The monthly subscription is available in the U.S. for $200 USD per month, this service allows Tesla owners to access the company’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Considering currency exchange rates, this could translate to around $270 CAD monthly for Canadian consumers. This pricing strategy aims to make Tesla’s ADAS features more accessible, offering flexibility to subscribe or unsubscribe based on individual needs and circumstances, such as seasonal driving preferences. Currently, Canadian customers only have the option to buy FSD in full at $16,000 CAD.

While a subscription service for FSD Beta may allow more drivers to try out the technology, it will also assist Tesla in gathering more information and improving the system faster. The more miles clocked by FSD, the more the system learns.

Miles driven on FSD
Miles driven on FSD

Premium Connectivity Annual Plan

Alongside the FSD beta, Tesla is exploring the possibility of offering an annual subscription model for its Premium Connectivity service in Canada. Tesla started offering an annual subscription for Premium Connectivity in the US back in 2022 at $99.99, representing a 20% savings. Premium connectivity offers drivers additional features such as Live Traffic Visualization, Satellite-View Maps, and streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. The anticipated price for Canadian subscribers is set to be around $139.99 annually, offering a savings opportunity compared to the current monthly subscription rate of $13.99 CAD.

Patel's engagement on X highlights Tesla's proactive approach to addressing potential legal and regulatory barriers that might impede the introduction of these services in Canada. He committed to investigating these issues, underscoring Tesla's dedication to its Canadian customer base.

Strategic Investments and Enthusiastic Community

Tesla's plans for Canada go beyond just offering new subscription services. The company has made significant investments in manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain operations in the country.

Tesla FSD Beta v12 Auto Parks, Completes U-Turns, But Removes Traffic-Aware Cruise Control Ability

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla has released FSD Beta v12 to some customers
Tesla has released FSD Beta v12 to some customers

Tesla's FSD Beta version 12.2.1, update 2023.44.30.20, recently started going out to some owners, which resulted in more videos posted on X. There are several examples of amazing technology at work, but also evidence that more work is needed.

Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla's Director of Autopilot Software, recently highlighted the sophistication of FSD Beta v12 on X, emphasizing how the system's end-to-end approach is tackling complex driving scenarios with remarkable ease. His response came to a video of FSD maneuvering around a large puddle.

FSD V12 Does U-Turns

One of the standout features of FSD Beta v12 is its ability to execute U-turns seamlessly when required by the route. This is where real-world examples show the good and the bad of this highly advanced maneuver come into play. X user AI DRIVR, an account posting several high-quality videos of V12.2.1 in action, demonstrates a flawless U-turn.

Unfortunately, not all U-turns posted on X are as pretty; Randolph Kim has been experimenting with several scenarios. While later videos showed better behavior with u-turns and roundabouts, the earlier attempts had to be disengaged.

Parking Mode / First Glimpse at Park Seek

During our first glimpse of FSD v12 during Musk’s livestream, we noticed a new behavior when the vehicle reached its destination. Instead of just stopping, the vehicle now pulled over to the side of the road. However, it looks like the newest release goes one step further.

In a video by ArthurFromX, the vehicle is navigating to a parking lot. Not only does the vehicle successfully navigate to the parking lot, but it hunts around for a spot and then successfully parks without any additional instructions.

This could be our first glimpse at Tesla’s upcoming Park Seek feature that will eventually let the vehicle drop you off at the door and then go park itself.

Return of the Snapshot Button

Tesla appears to have reintroduced the Snapshot button in this update, at least to some owners. The snapshot button allows drivers to send additional information to Tesla regarding Autopilot's performance. This feature and the existing voice command feedback option provide Tesla with invaluable data to improve the FSD system further.

Automatic Speed Offset

Another noteworthy addition is the Automatic Set Speed Offset feature, which grants the vehicle autonomy to adjust its speed based on factors such as road type, traffic flow, and environmental conditions. The video below shows this feature in action. The feature is turned off by default and it currently only applies to street-level roads, but it’s a shift toward more human-like behavior for FSD Beta.

TACC is No Longer Accessible

Recently, Tesla revised the Autopilot activation method to avoid confusion and offered drivers two choices — a single pull of the stalk to enable FSD Beta or the traditional two taps. However, with FSD Beta v12, drivers are now required to use the single pull method to activate Autopilot.

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) has traditionally been one pull of the stalk and Autopilot two pulls, but with the new single-pull method to activate Autopilot, TACC becomes unavailable. This hasn’t been a big deal until the release of FSD v12. With v12 Tesla is now requiring FSD Beta to use the single tap activation method.

This means that if a driver chooses to use FSD Beta, then TACC is no longer accessible. The only way to enable it is to go into Controls > Autopilot and turn off FSD Beta and instead choose Autosteer (or TACC). However, if you wish to enable FSD Beta again later, then it requires the vehicle to be in Park. Switching between Autosteer and FSD Beta isn’t practical for drivers. For those who rely on TACC, this issue could be a significant disadvantage in this release.

Update 2023.44.30.20

FSD 12.2.1
Installed on 0% of vehicles
0 Installs today
Last updated: Feb 25, 6:00 am

Several drivers have praised FSD Beta v12’s ability to navigate complex situations, better decision-making, and smoother behavior. However, as with any cutting-edge technology, there have been instances where the system's responses have room for improvement, highlighting the importance of its continued development.

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