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Tesla is Reportedly Using BYD Batteries With Fire Issues on a New Model Y Variant in Europe

Tesla has started production of a new Model Y variant at Giga Berlin with batteries supplied by BYD. The new Model Y variant's 45,000 euros starting price makes it a great offer. However, there are concerns even amongst die-hard Tesla fans regarding the safety of the BYD batteries which now power the new Model Y.


According to new reports by Tesla has reportedly started producing a new Model Y variant at Giga Berlin. The information was confirmed by local Tesla enthusiasts who recently took a tour of the Berlin plant.

Participants of the tour noticed a fourth Giga Press at work at the plant and got confirmation from Tesla employees that the plant has started production of a new Model Y variant. The new Model Y, like the Giga Texas Model Y All-Wheel-Drive, uses both front and rear casting, however, the Giga Berlin Model Y comes with some important differences.

The made-in-Germany Model Y is only Rear-Wheel-Drive and is the third variant of the vehicle to be built at Giga Berlin, following the Performance and Long Range variants which began production last year.

However, the biggest difference from that of the Giga Texas Model Y is that the new Model Y, according to information shared with German regulators last year, will be using batteries supplied by Tesla’s Chinese competitor BYD.

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The new BYD battery Rear-Wheel-Drive Model Y has a smaller size pack and shorter range than both the Giga Texas AWD Model Y and the Giga Shanghai Rear-Wheel-Drive Model Y. The Giga Shanghai Model Y uses 62KWh lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) packs from CATL and has a 244-mile EPA-estimated range.

The exact battery pack size of the new Giga Berlin Model Y is not yet known however, it’s estimated to be around 56-58KWh LFP battery pack. This makes the new Giga Berlin Model Y, the variant of the all-electric crossover with the smallest battery.

According to Tesla’s online configurator, this new Model Y variant has a 267-mile WLTP estimated range. However, the WLTP range gets subtracted by around 15% to 20% when converting to the EPA range meaning the vehicle has close to 220 miles range.

The new Model Y’s 220-mile range is uncharacteristic of Tesla which even back in 2008 with the original Roadster maintained an EPA-estimated range of over 240 miles. Despite the range, producing this variant would still be considered a success especially considering that it has a 45,000 euro starting price which is 10,000 euros cheaper than the Model Y Long Range variant.

Taking into account that not everyone needs a 250-plus mile range EV and the ubiquity of charging infrastructure in Europe, this vehicle makes a lot of sense for certain buyers. However, where the issue lies is with the supplier of the batteries.

As stated above, the batteries for the new Model Y variant are supplied by BYD. And even by die-hard Tesla fans, it has been reported several times that BYD has a less rigorous battery safety system and that the company’s vehicles are prone to vehicle fires.

In the past few weeks, there have been several reports of BYD EV fires. And members of the Tesla community have pointed to BYD fires as the reason Tesla is still a better EV manufacturer despite BYD’s astronomical growth over the past 2 years.

Having said that, short of any comprehensive study looking at BYD EV fires, it is difficult to conclude from the anecdotal reports that the company’s EVs have a higher likelihood to catch fire.

And even if BYD vehicles are more prone to battery fires than Teslas, that doesn’t mean the new Giga Berlin Model Y will be any less safe than other Tesla variants. The reason is that there is a lot more to battery fire than the battery cells.

Tesla is only purchasing the cells from BYD, however, there are several areas where a battery fire can arise including the pack architecture, battery management software issues, thermal runaway mitigation, module build, battery cooling, and heating, and many more areas where Tesla will be using 15-year expertise to insure the new Model Y is indeed safe.

Currently, Tesla is just starting production of the Rear-wheel-Drive Model Y at Giga Berlin, and initial deliveries are expected in May-June, and we hope that the vehicle doesn’t have any battery issues. However, we will be sure to keep you posted once Tesla starts delivering the vehicle.

Until then, make sure to visit our site regularly for the latest updates.

So what do you think? Excited to see a new Model Y variant starting production at Giga Berlin? Also, what do you make of the range numbers and BYD battery fire reports? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Image: Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

For more information check out: Tesla Slightly Increases Model 3/Y Price in an Attempt to Stop Individuals Waiting for Further Price Cuts

Tinsae Aregay has been following Tesla and The evolution of the EV space on a daily basis for several years. He covers everything about Tesla from the cars to Elon Musk, the energy business, and autonomy. Follow Tinsae on Twitter at @TinsaeAregay for daily Tesla news