A reader recently dropped us a note with a link to an article in the Taiwan Economic News about a battery manufacturer there called Pihsiang Energy Technology Co., Ltd. (PHET). PHET is reportedly working on lithium iron-phosphate cells for use in various applications including electric cars. For those not keeping close tabs on lithium battery chemistry, iron-phosphate is the same type being developed by A123 systems for both the PHEV Saturn Vue and the Chevy Volt.
Of particular interest in the article is the claim by company chairman Donald Wu that they have received an order from a certain San Carlos, CA-based startup for LiFePO4 battery packs. Since the article has several inconsistencies with other information we know about Tesla, such as the fact that the Roadster obviously won't be delivered by mid-2007 (since that date has come and gone), it was time to contact Tesla and get the real story. In past discussions with Tesla they have declined to get to specific on their battery chemistry beyond the fact they are using lithium metal-oxide.

Marketing VP Darryl Siry again confirmed that the Roadster doesn't use LiFePO4 cells and they have no plans to. While the iron phosphate batteries are more stable and hopefully more robust for automotive applications they have lower energy density. As for PHET's claims, Tesla won't comment on specific battery suppliers or whether they are looking at LiFePO4 cells for future applications. Tesla has always said they are agnostic when it comes to batteries and their only concern is finding something that meets their specs. As any smart company would do, they are surely looking at all reasonable possibilities. Finally Darryl stated that they only buy cells from the highest quality manufacturers which in this context may be implying something about this particular company.

[Source: Taiwan Economic News, Tesla Motors]


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