Tesla partners Panasonic and CATL are setting up big battery operations in Europe

(Credit: Tesla)

As Tesla continues the buildout of its Gigafactory Berlin facility, some of the electric car maker’s battery partners are also setting their sights on the region. Panasonic, Tesla’s longtime battery partner, is looking to explore a big battery venture in Norway. CATL, a key partner for Giga Shanghai’s Model 3 production, is also setting up shop just over 200 miles away from the municipality where Giga Berlin is located. 

Europe seems to be on track to become an EV capital, with the region recently revealing its intentions to roll out an aggressive phase-out of internal combustion engine cars. As noted by Barron’s, at least 12 countries are planning a ban on ICE cars in the coming years. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson even announced on Wednesday that a ban on the sale of gas and diesel vehicles will take effect by 2030. 

Amidst this shift to electric cars, the supply of batteries will likely become more important than ever in the coming years. Battery supply will most definitely be a necessity for carmakers, especially as more and more companies begin rolling out large numbers of EVs. This seems to be one of the reasons why Panasonic, Norwegian state-owned oil company Equinor, and Norwegian aluminum group Hydro announced on Wednesday that they had formed a strategic partnership to set up a green battery business in Norway. 

The group is looking to complete the initiative’s exploratory phase by mid-2021. The group also aims to look into the development of an integrated supply chain for the production of batteries. Mototsugu Sato, Panasonic’s executive vice president, explained the group’s aims in a statement. “This collaboration combines Panasonic’s position as an innovative technology company and leader in lithium-ion batteries, with the deep industrial experience of Equinor and Hydro,” he said. 

CATL, Tesla China’s battery supplier for Gigafactory Shanghai’s LFP Model 3 batteries is also building a facility at Erfurt, Germany that is expected to begin producing batteries around 2022. The facility is quite substantial, with an estimated annual output of about 24 GWh in its final stages. What is quite interesting is that Erfurt is just about 201 miles away from Grunheide, where Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin is being built. 

Little is known about CATL’s plans for its Erfurt factory, but it would not be surprising if the Chinese battery giant becomes a supplier for Tesla’s electric cars in Germany in the future, even if the electric car maker launches its own battery cell production facility in Giga Berlin. Tesla, after all, intends to produce a mass-market $25,000 car in its Berlin plant, which would likely use low-cost, cobalt-free lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries. Such cells are already being used in the Made-in-China Model 3 Standard Range Plus, which uses CATL-made LFP cells. 

Amidst Europe’s aggressive push against the internal combustion engine, it would not be surprising if Tesla’s Gigafactory Berlin ends up perennially operating at full capacity once it enters production. With the Model Y competing in the crossover market and a $25,000 car being positioned for more affordable segments, Tesla may very well end up commanding a substantial portion of Europe’s electric car market. 

Tesla partners Panasonic and CATL are setting up big battery operations in Europe
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