Kazuo Tadanobu, the CEO of Panasonic’s energy division, recently shared some insights about the company’s upcoming 4680 batteries, which would be sold to longtime partner Tesla. Tadanobu mentioned a number of key observations about the upcoming batteries, particularly on how the 4680 cells could effectively initiate change in the transportation sector.
Panasonic has been working on its 4680 battery for about a year and a half now, and it has not been easy. According to the executive, the development of the new batteries has “taken an immense amount of stamina.” This was because creating 4680 batteries is not as simple as enlarging existing cells. Tadanobu noted that changing the entire shape of the cell took “considerable nerve,” and that Panasonic “didn’t know how they would be received” by Tesla.
Fortunately for Panasonic, Tesla has reportedly acknowledged the Japanese company’s work on its 4680 batteries. Tesla has reportedly deemed Panasonic’s 4680 cells viable, as they meet the level of performance that the American electric vehicle maker is seeking. This is a good sign for Panasonic’s 4680 program, considering that Tesla itself is also ramping the production of its in-house 4680 cells.
Tesla’s home-grown 4680 cells will likely see their initial deployment in the Made-in-Texas Model Y, which will be produced at Gigafactory Texas. So far, Tesla’s 4680 production is limited to the company’s pilot line in Kato Road, close to the Fremont Factory. That’s a facility that has the potential to ramp to 10 GWh per year, but it’s still being improved today, with the company announcing last month that it had produced its 1 millionth 4680 battery cell in January. Tesla would likely need as many 4680 batteries as it could get, considering the launch of upcoming vehicles such as the Cybertruck, Semi, and new Roadster.
Panasonic, for its part, has been sharing its battery partnership with Tesla with rivals such as LG Energy Solution and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), both of which are extremely aggressive. Yet despite the rising competition, such as LG Energy Solution previously stating back in 2020 that it intends to be Tesla’s primary battery supplier in the future, Panasonic believes that the quality and safety of its batteries would speak for themselves.
According to Tadanobu, Panasonic’s advantage in the market lies in its capability to “use craftsmanship to maintain safety even while raising the performance of a battery.” And after leading the development of the next-generation cells, the executive noted that Panasonic would work very hard to retain its spot. “We don’t want to lose,” the Panasonic executive said.
Overall, the executive explained that Panasonic’s hard work in developing 4680 batteries for clients like Tesla is due to the company’s belief that the cells themselves have the potential to change the world of transport. If 4680 battery cells become successful, they would have a considerable impact in lowering the cost of electric vehicles. And if this happens, electric vehicle adoption would likely increase. “We see them as a new path forward,” Tadanobu said.
*Quotes courtesy of Bloomberg, which interviewed Tadanobu in Osaka.
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