Stellantis and BMW are reportedly talking with Tesla battery supplier Panasonic about potential new battery plants in North America. Tesla and Panasonic produce 2170 battery cells at Giga Nevada that power the Model 3 sedan and Model Y crossover.
Panasonic is arguably the industry leader for cylindrical cells, thanks in no small part to its long partnership with Tesla. For over a decade, Panasonic has been supplying 18650 cells for the Model S sedan and Model X SUV and 2170 cells for the Model 3 and Model Y. The Japanese tech company has supplied billions of cylindrical cells to the American EV maker.
Traditional automakers which produce electric cars tend to favor pouch or prismatic batteries, which typically require fewer batteries to power a vehicle. Cylindrical batteries such as those produced by Panasonic tend to be smaller, so thousands of cells are used for every car. But they also have advantages as they have high energy density and are relatively safe.
Panasonic’s efforts seem to have paid off. In a recent report, The Wall Street Journal stated that Stellantis and BMW are both talking to Panasonic for the potential collaboration on one of its EV battery plants in North America. Citing people familiar with the matter, Stellantis is reportedly speaking with the Japanese battery maker for a third factory in North America. Stellantis has already started the construction of two EV battery factories for North America. It has partnered with LG Energy Solution in Canada and Samsung SDI in Indiana.
The WSJ’s sources noted, however, that Stellantis’ discussions for its potential battery plant with Panasonic in North America are still in early stages.
BMW, on the other hand, noted last year that its new generation of electric cars from 2025 would be equipped with cylindrical batteries instead of prismatic cells. The automaker also announced plans to construct six new EV battery plants across Europe, China, and the North American free-trade zone, which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
BMW stated in September that it had awarded contracts in the “two-digit billion-euro range” to CATL and Eve Energy Co. for the buildout of two factories each in China and Europe. The automaker also noted that it would be sourcing batteries in the United States Envision AESC, a subsidiary of China’s leading renewable energy company, Envision Group.
BMW’s head of battery-cell technology Peter Lamp has disclosed that the automaker is currently in discussions with potential suppliers for additional battery projects. Lamp refrained from naming specific companies involved in the negotiations and noted that no contracts had been signed yet.
Considering political tensions with China, however, Chinese battery makers may find it challenging to operate in the United States, the WSJ noted. This, ultimately ws one of the drivers behind BMW’s decision to speak with Panasonic, the publication’s sources stated.