Panasonic showcases Tesla 4680 battery cell prototype

(Credit: Panasonic)

Tesla battery supplier Panasonic showed off some 4680 lithium ion cells and shared a few details about its production.

Panasonic recently revealed the 4680 cylindrical battery to the Wall Street Journal–a little over a year after Tesla unveiled the new cell design during Battery Day. According to the head of Panasonic’s battery unit, Kazuo Tadanobu, the larger cell design yields fives times the capacity of smaller models.

The Japanese battery maker plans to start 4680 test production by March 2022 in Japan. Last month, Panasonic announced it would be creating a new energy business, named Panasonic Energy Corporation, by April 2022.

Panasonic’s brief update about the 4680 battery cell underlines that Tesla plans to work with its current battery suppliers to increase its cell production capacity. During the last earnings call, Tesla’s VP of Vehicle Engineering, Lars Moravy, noted that Tesla is in a generally “cell-contained world.”

“We’re working on a strategy to increase our production rates as quickly as possible. I think Zach spoke to that well. And we’re doing this while trying to add the least amount of incremental complexity to the business. We don’t want to add any new vehicles to our lineup when we’re generally in a cell-constrained world,” Moravy said, replying to an investor question about the production of Tesla’s $25K model.

Even with the challenges it faces, Tesla seems determined to push through and start production on some exciting vehicles, specifically Elon Musk’s Cybertruck. At the Q3 2021 earnings call, Tesla announced that its next product launch would be the Cybertruck.

However, Moravy tempered expectations for Cybertruck production. He mentioned many supply chain headwinds that Tesla has faced and continues to face as the effects of the pandemic roll on into 2022.

“As we’ve mentioned before, after Model Y in Austin, our next product launch will be Cybertruck. And that timing, of course, depends on increasing cell capacity both from our suppliers and through our in-house cell as well as many other headwinds we face in the supply chain and completing our currently full plate of products on the table,” he said.

Even with the challenges Tesla predicts it will continue to face, the company seemed confident that a few vehicles with 4680 cells would begin testing next year. Panasonic’s March 2022 test production for the 4680 cells appears to align with Tesla’s timeline.

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Maria Merano: Veteran writer and editor, who believes harmony between tech and nature is achievable. We just need to learn to compromise.
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