Why Tesla LFP Batteries Are More Environmentally Friendly

By Cliff Rice

Back in August of 2021, we compared NCA (lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide) batteries with LFP (lithium iron phosphate) batteries - "Tesla's LFP (iron) batteries compared. Which one should you buy?". NCA batteries had been the standard for all Tesla models in the USA, but Tesla’s plans to switch to LFP in Model 3s and Model Ys prompted that article. Tesla even offered more rapid delivery to customers waiting for the cars they had on order if they decided to get their car with LFP batteries.

A nickel mine in Indonesia
A nickel mine in Indonesia

There are trade-offs between these two battery types in terms of weight, range, consequences of carrying a full charge, regenerative braking, and cold weather behavior which are all discussed in the column mentioned above. These are all valid considerations, but working from the assumption that a prime motivation of most people buying an electric car is to promote a healthy environment and a healthier planet (by cutting CO2 emissions), it should also be mentioned that these two battery chemistries have vastly different implications for the environment. Crucially, NCA batteries are built with a lot of nickel (about 18 kg in a Tesla) whereas LFP batteries have none. But high demand for nickel for Teslas (and many other electric vehicle models) is accelerating strip-mining in Indonesia and the Philippines. Mining is one thing, but strip mining is more problematic.

Strip mining on tropical islands in Southeast Asia is especially harmful because these are centers of biodiversity with large numbers of unique species of plants and animals, many of which are endangered - some critically so. Unlike forest clearing, where the land retains some value for agricultural production, strip mining obliterates what is there and it will likely be decades, if not centuries, before such areas are productive again. When not rainforests, this strip mining is destroying agricultural land. Plus, Southeast Asia has high rainfall, so once the land is laid bare, erosion carries large amounts of sediment onto nearby coral reefs.

Details matter, however, and in this case it should be pointed out that nickel is mined from two sources - laterite and sulfide. Laterite deposits (as in Indonesia and the Philippines) are formed by the weathering of ultramafic bedrock in areas of high seasonal rainfall, along ridges and mountain shoulders. Through leaching, nickel accumulates 10-25 m below the surface and the only way to get at it is to clear off the top 10 m and everything living there.

In contrast, sulfide deposits are in the bedrock and nickel is extracted by hard-rock mining, sometimes near the surface, but often far underground. This distinction is important for electric vehicles because sulfide deposits are smelted into the highly pure nickel which is required for batteries. When laterite nickel is smelted, the lower purity nickel primarily goes to other uses, such as stainless steel. However, if laterite nickel is processed by High Pressure Acid Leaching (HPAL), nickel of sufficient purity for batteries is produced, but at present not very much is produced this way. Of the other uses of nickel besides for batteries, some processes also need high purity nickel, but some can use either high or lower purity nickel. Another important point is that there are not likely prospects for increased production of sulfide nickel, whereas there are extensive areas available for mining laterite nickel.

This may all seem convoluted, but what this all means is 1) as consumption of sulfide nickel for batteries grows with the expansion of the electric vehicle market, this will take up more and more of available sulfide supplies; 2) processes which can use either will hence shift to laterite nickel. Thus, while some may point out that electric vehicle batteries, for the most part, do not use laterite nickel and hence are not the cause of the expanding strip-mining occurring in Indonesia and the Philippines (and in a few other places such as Venezuela and Brazil), it is nevertheless true that additional demand for laterite nickel is a consequence of vehicle batteries taking an increasingly large portion of the available sulfide nickel.

Despite much press coverage last year, Tesla's transition to LFP batteries has only made it to the Model 3 Rear Wheel Drive model (in the USA). Other models may get LFP batteries in the future, as they have in Europe. So, buying a Tesla is a great way to contribute to the decarbonization of your personal transportation, but to avoid the harmful impacts of high-nickel battery chemistries, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) is the best, even if you have to be selective as to which model you get.

Cliff Rice is a retired wildlife biologist, nickel nerd, and guitar player. He has written a song about responsible sourcing of EV battery materials entitled "So You Want an Electric Car?".

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Tesla Model Y, the best selling EV in Q1, wins U.S. News 'Best Luxury Electric SUV'

By Gabe Rodriguez Morrison
Tesla Model Y wins U.S. News Best Luxury SUV
Tesla Model Y wins U.S. News Best Luxury SUV
Kelley Blue Book

Tesla's Model Y has won U.S. News 'Best Luxury Electric SUV' award. U.S. News writes "Despite the onslaught of new competitors, the Tesla Model Y is one of the most capable and well-rounded luxury electric SUVs that you can buy at the moment," U.S. News added, “If you’re in the market, this is an option that’s well-worth a test drive.”

The Model Y was first delivered to owners in early 2020 and was the automaker’s second mass-market vehicle after the Model 3. The Model Y effectively expanded Tesla’s product line to include a new body style. Tesla’s Model Y has rapidly become the company's best-selling vehicle, despite being more expensive than the Model 3. This speaks to the prominence of the Model Y, dominating the widely-popular crossover SUV sector. 

Tesla's Model Y starts at $62,990, making it much more appealing to mass markets than the Model X which starts at $114,990. Tesla's Model X has been offered for seven years, but is still only produced for sentimental reasons, according to CEO Elon Musk.

U.S. News highlights that, while the Model Y offers less cargo and utility room than the Model X, it still includes many of the same tech features and comparable performance. A fully enhanced Model Y has a 0 to 60 MPH of just 3.5 seconds while still having over 300 miles of range and a 155 MPH top speed.

It's no surprise that the Model Y was the recipient of the U.S. News ‘Best Luxury Electric SUV’ award as it topped the list of best-selling EVs in the US in Q1 2022. In Q1 2022, U.S. EV sales were up 60% year-over-year, demonstrating the continued shift away from internal combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla had the top 3 best selling EVs

Tesla took first, second and third place with an impressive 52,051 registered units for the Model Y, and 47,682 registered units of the Model 3. These two models alone make up the bulk of the entire U.S. EV market. Tesla also achieved third place with 9,250 registrations of the Model S and seventh place is the Tesla Model X with 4,899 registrations. Tesla remains the leader in EV sales, consistently selling a number of vehicles unattainable to competitors.

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How to add more 'Quick Control' icons in the Tesla app

By Rene Pepin
You can add a fifth Quick Control icon to the Tesla app
You can add a fifth Quick Control icon to the Tesla app

Tesla completely redesigned their app with version 4.0 last year. Since then Tesla has been quickly iterating on its features with updates and new features coming every few weeks.

With version 4.3 of the Tesla app, Tesla added the ability to customize the Quick Control buttons on the main screen.

You can add up to four buttons, but with this little trick, you can also add a fifth icon.

Add a Fifth Icon to the Tesla App

To add a fifth icon start by long-pressing the row of icons to bring up an editing screen to sort or replace those icons with the ones you use most frequently.

Now here is where the fun starts because it will take a little manual dexterity to add the additional icon but when you do it correctly your sense of accomplishment will out weight your initial frustration.

Here is the trick:

With your right thumb, pick up one of the available icons and drag it over the fourth icon (in the screen above it is the Front Trunk icon), but do not release it.

While keeping your right thumb held down, use your thumb on your left hand to press on the 1st icon (in the screen above it is the HVAC icon), and drag it to the second icon (the Defrost icon). The icon you have brought up will move offscreen to the right into the invisible fifth spot.

Release both fingers simultaneously and VIOLA a fifth icon will magically appear.

Have fun mixing and matching your icons as your needs change. You can update the icon bar as often as needed.

Video

Tesla used to allow users to continue to add an unlimited amount of icons, but it wasn't a great experience so the total number of icons is now limited to five.

Additional Tips

There are several other useful bits of information about the Tesla app that could make it more useful.

For example, you can tap the battery icon at the top of the screen to access charging information. This brings up the same information as tapping on the Charge Quick Control icon.

If you prefer tapping the battery icon, you can remove the Charge icon from the Quick Controls area, allowing you to free up a spot, essentially giving you an extra Quick Control slot.

Wake Up Your Vehicle Quicker

When using the app most commands are executed through the vehicle's internet connection, which requires your vehicle to be awake.

Waiting for your vehicle to wake up could sometimes take up to a minute, but there is a way to speed it up if you're within Bluetooth distance (around 30 feet).

Some commands are sent via Bluetooth, which allows them to be completed even if the vehicle is asleep. This includes locking and unlocking the doors.

When completing one of these commands, your Tesla starts to turn on almost immediately.

If you're waiting for your vehicle to turn on, you can send a command to lock/unlock your vehicle and your vehicle should wake up quicker than just waiting.

Widget

If you've added a fifth icon to your Quick Controls and use the Tesla app widget, then the widget will now display all five icons as well.

No Need to Wait

With the introduction of the Tesla app version 4.0 last year, Tesla quietly rolled out a feature that changes the way you use the app.

Previously, you needed to open the Tesla app, wait for your vehicle to wake up, and then you could send a command to the car, such as using turning on the climate system or using HomeLink.

However, now you can simply open the app, tap your desired function (it'll show a spinning circle) and you can quit the app.

Instead of the command going directly to your car, it will now be sent to Tesla. Tesla's servers will be the ones who wait for your vehicle to wake up, and when it does, Tesla will execute the command.

If for some reason Tesla isn't able to wake up your vehicle due to a poor connection or another error, then you'll receive a notification saying the command failed.

This makes turning on the HVAC system a much more enjoyable experience.

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Although we share official Tesla release notes, we are not affiliated with Tesla Motors. We are Tesla fans and supporters.

Upcoming Release

View the release notes for the upcoming version 2022.16.

Confirmed by Elon

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

Days Until Next Release

34

Estimated days until version 2022.20 is released.

Subscribe to be notified when new software is released.

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