Tesla Model S, courtesy of Tesla Inc.
Nicolas Caballero's picture

Affordable Tesla "Model Q" Might Have BYD LFP Battery And Cost 25K: Renewed Rumors

Tesla has been working for a long time on the launch of an affordable car (around $25,000), that is, cheaper than a Model 3 and presumably smaller in size. New rumors have emerged in recent days from different sources that point out at the new model, which would apparently be called "Model Q"; again, these are speculations and nothing has actually been confirmed by Tesla, but the truth is that everybody likes the idea.

Up until now some basic facts have been discussed on social media and other publications, like for instance that the compact Tesla would be manufactured in China - Giga Shanghai, for the whole world; although it is possible that later, when actual production costs allow, it could also be assembled in Europe. This proposal has been described as "the $25,000 Tesla", which specifically mentions the base price before taxes and incentives.

Several media are now reporting that Tesla is -presumably - already considering adding the "Model Q" name to this proposal, also stating that its production would begin in 2023 at the Shanghai Giga Factory. It is also said that despite being positioned as a cheaper option, this new Tesla model will not give up elements that are featured in the rest of the family members, such as self-driving systems (FSD), and even presumably the capability of evolving towards full autonomous driving.

In terms of design, the new Model Q should be placed below the Model 3 in size, possibly around 4.5 meters in length, with a muscular, sportier rear end. The result would likely be a more compact saloon - without giving up key features - as well as high-performance at a reasonable price. Some sources even indicate that the acceleration will go from 0 – 60 mph in 3.9 seconds for the fastest version, and down to 6.9 seconds for the regular models, with a 400 km range.

The Model Q would also have an SUV version, and up to three power-train options. Rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and Performance version. But where the key to everything lies within the battery itself. This key element – LFP Battery - will provide the power to launch a more affordable Tesla model without reducing the company's profit. The logical question is how they will do it.

On the one hand, Elon Musk himself assured that the 4680 cells should allow for the launch of an affordable car, but only in 2023. A technology that is still under development and may not arrive in time to offer all its capabilities to this - and other - Tesla projects since Panasonic, for instance, has said that it will not start production until well into the year 2023.

Tesla Model Y, Courtesy of Tesla Inc.

The alternative plan that Tesla has outlined would be to buy advanced LFP Blade batteries from Chinese BYD, a type of affordable and lasting cells that seem to fit perfectly for this project. Agaian, this is a possibility that different sources have been playing around with for some time now, and that has even triggered rumors in early 2021 of a purchase of a 20% share of BYD by Tesla.

The problem does not seem to be so much to develop the technology iself, but more likely to develop enough volume production capacity: as a matter of fact Tesla's 4680 cells already have many internal candidate models within the brand eagerly waiting: among them the Cybertruck, the Tesla Semi, the new Model Y, the Model S Plaid, and maybe more.

Tesla Cybertruck, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

And all these discussions are happening even before actual production starts. So basically the whole thing points out at the fact that it will be very difficult to provide LFP baterries to a higher-volume new model without some kind of strong external support, such as that provided by different agreements with Chinese CATL, Korean LG, Japanese Panasonic, and which apparently also indicates that soon would be joined by BYD in order to feed the (apparently) upcoming Model Q.

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.

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The MY-Q theories are another internet blog FAIL. Musk confirmed during the Q4 Earnings Call that NO WORK is being done on the 'under $25K vehicle'. Tesla has too much on it's plate already, and supply constraints limit any possibility of anything new. Sorry! Not Sorry!