Tesla battery supplier LG Chem to double production capacity: report

Tesla Gigafactory Nevada battery cell production line (Credit: Super Factories)

Tesla battery supplier LG Chem will double its cell production capacity over the next year to keep up with the growing demand for Tesla’s electric vehicles in China, a new report says.

An exclusive report from Reuters states that sources familiar with the matter have talked about strategies moving forward to keep up with increasingly popular all-electric vehicles from Tesla. LG Chem, who supplies cells to Tesla in Shanghai for the production of the Model 3 sedan, stated that it would also ship its increased output from China and Korea to Tesla production facilities in the United States and Germany once they are completed. Tesla currently has a new production facility under construction in Austin, Texas, and in Brandenburg, Germany. Reuters indicated that two people who are familiar with the matter have seen LG Chem signal an increased role in the supply chain of Tesla as it continues to grow its lead in the EV production sector.

Tesla is LG Chem’s primary customer, and the plan to double its cell production capacity comes as Tesla begins to expand its global production processes aggressively. Tesla has been manufacturing vehicles in Shanghai for around a year and announced its intentions to build a European production facility around 13 months ago. Rumors also speculate that another factory could be on the way within the next few years, and India could be the location, but nothing has been confirmed.

LG Chem has already added additional production lines to increase the possible production capacity in South Korea this year. The main purpose of the expansion was to meet demand from Tesla’s U.S. plants, the two sources told Reuters. “Tesla simply doesn’t have enough battery cells, so LG Chem is going to more than double China outputs,” the person said.

Tesla sources batteries from Panasonic, LG Chem, and CATL, and CEO Elon Musk stated at the company’s Battery Day event in September that it plans to begin making its own 4680 cells that will be less expensive and more efficient. However, the company will continue to source batteries from suppliers for the time being, but could eventually become a battery supplier on its own as it has plans to open several battery cell production facilities across the globe.

Tesla China signs contract with LG Chem for Model Y production

To keep up with global demand, Tesla will have to source batteries from third-party sources for the time being, and an LG Chem spokesperson said that there is an increased demand for cells. However, he could not elaborate on who was the cause of the expansion in cell production capacity.

“We’re continuing to expand capacity for cylindrical battery cells in response to growing demand from automakers, but we can’t comment on specific customers,” an LG Chem spokesman told Reuters.

LG Chem plans to invest $500 million over the next year to raise the annual production of 2170 cells by 8 GWh. The 2170 cells are used in the Model 3 and Model Y, Tesla’s two mass-market vehicles. Currently, eight production lines are operational at the Nanjing, China plant that LG Chem manufactures its batteries, but it plans to expand its available lines to seventeen.

Tesla currently only manufactures the Model 3 at its Chinese production facility, but it plans to begin building the Model Y within the next few months. Because of the overwhelming demand for both the Model 3 and Model Y, the move to expand 2170 cell capacity is a no-brainer, especially considering the Government-offered subsidies that China provides for clean energy vehicles.

The person who spoke with Reuters also indicated that LG Chem’s Chinese factory would initially supply battery cells for Tesla’s Giga Berlin production facility in Germany when it begins production in Summer 2021.

Tesla battery supplier LG Chem to double production capacity: report
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