Panasonic gearing up 4680-type Battery cells, mass production in May 2023
Reliable media reports have confirmed that Panasonic has commenced the pilot production of its latest 4680-type cylindrical battery cells in Japan. Mass production of the new cells is expected to begin in next fiscal year, along with a potential investment to extend its production to North America as well.
Kazuo Tadanobu, CEO of the Panasonic's energy business, at the company's recent annual investor event, has revealed the status of the 4680-type battery cells development. "A pilot line, created first in Japan, made it possible to start large-scale prototype production in May", Reuters reported.
The company has also informed that it had already sent samples of its new, powerful cells to EV maker Tesla, a forerunner in evaluating 4680-type cells for electric vehicles. Earlier, it was reported by media that Tesla has asked Panasonic to speed up the development of the new cell type for commercial production.
Panasonic may also consider a dedicated battery manufacturing facility in the United States to cater to Tesla's market expansion plans. The Japanese company may choose a location in Oklahoma or Kansas, as per media reports.
According to separate report by Automotive News, the output of Panasonic in North America might at least triple by 2029. Assuming that Panasonic's current battery cell production (2170-type) at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada is at 39 GWh/year, it would require building at least an additional capacity of 80 GWh/year (for 4680-type and/or other type of cells).
"Panasonic expects its North American capacity to triple or quadruple by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2029. New customers are currently evaluating the 4680 battery", Tadanobu reportedly said. This mean, apart from Tesla, these are other automakers who are in the target list for the company's new type cells.
The company's IR Day 2022 presentation reveals that it has delivered about 4.6 billion 1865-type cells and 5.5 billion 2170-type cells for EVs since 2009, more or less equivalent of a whooping 1.7 million electric car battery packs.
The 2170-type cells out runs the 1865-type at a much higher growth rate, while the latter type is maintaining a similar growth rate year-on-year. Industry observers note that the upcoming 4680-type battery cells is likely to be a game changer in terms of demand and volume sales in the coming years.