Panasonic said on Wednesday that it has shipped samples of Tesla’s 4680 cell to the automaker ahead of mass production. Panasonic detailed its plans for the production timeline during the first day of the company’s annual investor event.
“A pilot line, created first in Japan, made it possible to start large-scale prototype production in May,” Kazuo Tadanobu, Panasonic’s energy business CEO said during the event.
Pansonic believes mass production of the 4680 cell is set to begin in March 2023 when the company’s fiscal year starts. Panasonic’s Wakayama plant will initially handle the production of the cell. It will then be shifted to North America.
Tadanobu has not committed in the past to produce the 4680 cells in the United States, but now that he is stating the company will transition production to North America, it could bring another plant to the U.S.
Reuters, who initially reported on Panasonic shipping 4680 samples to Tesla, said the company is looking at sites in Kansas and Oklahoma, people familiar with the matter said.
Panasonic only has Tesla as a client for the new cells.
Tesla’s 4680 battery cell is the automaker’s most recent discovery in terms of EV technology, as it offers significantly more power, energy density, and range than previous battery designs. It was unveiled in late 2020 by CEO Elon Musk and other executives at the company’s Battery Day event. Tesla has been producing the cells at a facility near the Fremont Factory in Northern California, but only in limited quantities. Tesla had produced its 1 millionth 4680 cell in January. However, industry researcher Benchmark Mineral Intelligence estimated that one million 4680 cells are enough for about 1,200 Tesla Model Ys.
Tesla has been installing the 4680 battery packs in some Model Ys manufactured at the company’s new facility in Austin, Texas.
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