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Tesla's Supplier Panasonic to Begin Producing More Powerful ‘4680' Battery Cells by March 2024

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【Summary】Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic says its will begin producing a new lithium-ion battery by the end of March 2024 at its Wakayama Factory in western Japan. Panasonic says the new and improved nickel-cobalt-aluminum 4680 cell will store more energy, reduce battery costs by up to 50% and drive a 100-fold increase in battery production by 2030.

Eric Walz    Feb 28, 2022 7:45 AM PT
Tesla's Supplier Panasonic to Begin Producing More Powerful ‘4680' Battery Cells by March 2024
Panasonic's new 4680 battery cell is five times bigger than the cells Tesla is currently using.

Tesla's electric vehicle battery partner Panasonic says its will begin producing a new lithium-ion battery by the end of March 2024 at its Wakayama Factory in western Japan.

The new battery design, known as a "4680" format, was unveiled by Panasonic in Oct 2021 at a media event. The numerical format of the battery is based on its dimensions of 46 millimeters (mm) wide by 80 mm tall.

Panasonic says the new and improved nickel-cobalt-aluminum 4680 cell will store more energy, reduce battery costs by up to 50% and drive a 100-fold increase in battery production by 2030. 

The 4680 cell is roughly 5 times bigger than the "4170" (41mm wide, 70 mm tall) and "18650" (18mm wide, 65 mm tall) cells that Tesla used in the Model S sedan.

Panasonic introduced the improved 2170 lithium-ion cells for the Model 3, which went into production in the summer of 2017. The 2170 cells pack are more energy dense and can accept higher charging rates than the 18650 cell format.

According to Panasonic, the advanced 4860 battery has five times the storage capacity of Panasonic's 18650 cells. Panasonic President, Kazuo Tadanobu said the new battery will help the company deepen business ties with Tesla.

The more powerful battery cells can deliver more range, which can help Tesla and other automakers supplied by Panasonic to boost EV sales. The new lower cost battery format from Panasonic could also help Tesla deliver its much talked about $25,000 EV. Tesla won't be able to sell a $25,000 EV at a profit with the current costs of batteries.

Panasonic is building two new production lines at its Wakayama factory to build the batteries, the company said in a press release.

Panasonic has been Tesla's U.S. battery partner since the Model S was introduced in 2012. The cylindrical cell batteries used in its U.S.-built vehicles are produced at Tesla's factory in Nevada. 

In March of last year, Panasonic sold its entire stake in Tesla, which was worth roughly 400 billion yen ($3.61 billion). Although Panasonic sold a significant position in Tesla, the company said there will be no changes in its business partnership with the electric vehicle leader. Panasonic said it will continue to produce batteries in the U.S. for Tesla's electric vehicles.

Tesla has also entered into battery supply deals with South Korea's LG Energy Solution and China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) for the batteries that go into the vehicles built at its Shanghai factory.

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