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LG Energy Solution announces production of 4680 cells for Tesla

LG Energy Solution will soon launch a production line with a total annual capacity of 9 GWh dedicated to the new 4680 battery cells. These cells would be intended for Tesla and should equip the Model Y, the Cybertruck pick-up and the heavy truck Semi.

During Battery Day organized by Tesla in September 2020, Elon Musk announced the upcoming arrival of new 4680 battery cells, produced in-house in Fremont. Production lines should also see the light of day in the Gigafactories in Austin (Texas) and Berlin (Germany). These new cells would be “the best architecture, from a physical point of view, and the least expensive solution, from an economic point of view“, assured Elon Musk.

This type of cell – highly coveted by Tesla – should equip the Model Y produced by the Gigafactory in Berlin (Model Ys manufactured in Texas are already equipped with them today). The 4680 airframes are also expected to feature the Cybertruck pickup and Semi heavyweight.

Larger than the 2170, the 4680 battery cells, which take their name from their 46mm diameter and 80mm height, are said to have “five times the capacity of previous smaller models“, said Kazuo Tadanobu, the head of the Panasonic battery unit, partner and historical supplier of Tesla for almost 10 years.

The Japanese firm announced, in October 2021, that it was working on the development of 4680 cells. Panasonic built a pilot production line for the occasion at its Wakayama plant in Japan. The first samples have been delivered to Tesla. Currently, the Japanese firm is working on the implementation of two other production lines, which should start operating in April 2023.

But Panasonic is not the only one interested in 4680 cells. Among the competition are Chinese CATL and Korean Samsung SDI and LG Energy Solution (LGS), a subsidiary of LG Chem dedicated to electric car batteries.

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Production of 9 GWh for 432 million euros

LG Energy Solution – in which Tesla is seeking a 10% stake – has just announced that it will start production of 4680 cells from the second half of 2023 at its factory in Ochong, South Korea. Annual production is estimated at 9 GWh. If nothing is official, everything suggests that this production would be dedicated to Tesla, the only manufacturer to have announced the use of 4680 cells.

This project received 432 million euros of investments out of the 544 million dedicated to the development of cells by LG Energy Solution. In addition, 112 million euros will be spent on the 2170 cells also produced in Ochong, whose capacity should reach 4 GWh. Here too, Tesla would be one of the customers, knowing that the American manufacturer uses 2170 cells for its Model 3 and Model Y. Note, Panasonic and CATL (prismatic lithium iron phosphate cells) also supply Tesla.

The creation of these two new production lines will allow LG Energy Solution to have a production capacity of 35 GWh, and to target 200 GWh by the end of 2022 and 520 GWh by 2025.

For example, Northvolt, the Swedish Tom Thumb which has just opened its first cell production plant in Skellefteå, in northern Sweden, is aiming for 16 GWh by 2024. The plant is designed to produce 60 GWh annually and equip one million electric vehicles each year.

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