Tesla urges Panasonic to speed up development of its 4680 battery cell

Tesla has asked Panasonic to accelerate development of the 4680 battery cell, which will power its next-generation electric vehicles.

The Japanese manufacturer is still looking for a location for an American factory.

In 2020, Tesla unveiled its 4680 battery cell, a new tabless battery cell that is larger in size and features new chemistry, making it possible to manufacture electric vehicles that are less expensive and/or have greater range.

These cells have already been used for the Model Y produced at the Gigafactory in Texas. For the first time, the automaker is using its own cells to support its production of electric vehicles.

However, Tesla is going to need so many cells that it is also partnering with current battery suppliers to roll out their own production of the new 4680 cell.

Panasonic, Tesla’s longest-serving battery partner, has tentatively announced that it will roll out a prototype production line for the new battery cell.

Later, Panasonic’s new CEO, Yuki Kusumi, said the company was ready to make a “heavy investment” in producing Tesla’s new battery cell if test production proved successful.

In October 2021, the Japanese manufacturer unveiled its own 4680 cell developed with Tesla. Later, Panasonic announced a $700 million investment to produce the 4680 cell in Japan, and rumor has it that it was looking for a location for a new factory in the United States to produce the cells.

Today, Hirokazu Umeda, CFO of Panasonic, said Tesla pushed for faster development of the 4680 cell:

We cannot say more than what has been published, but we receive many requests. We see continued strong demand from Tesla, for the 2170 batteries, but also for faster development of the 4680.

Tesla is currently deploying a production capacity of 4,680 units at Gigafactory Texas and Berlin, and does not expect a shortage of battery cells to sustain its production until next year, when it begins production of the Cybertruck.

The average Cybertruck will likely use twice the battery capacity of the average Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, its most popular vehicles. It will significantly increase Tesla’s battery cell demand, and it will rely on both in-house production and production from suppliers establishing a 4680 cell capacity, such as Panasonic.

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