Panasonic eyes 3rd NA EV battery plant

Speaking Thursday during Panasonic Holdings Corp.’s annual business strategy briefing, Tadanobu said his company also planned next-generation improvements to its cells.

Energy density of Panasonic’s lithium ion batteries should increase to 1,000 watts per liter in 2030 from 800 watts per liter in 2022, he said. Improvements will be applied to a next-generation version of its 2170 cylindrical battery and the upcoming high-density 4680 cylindrical battery.

Both batteries are used by Tesla, although Panasonic has also agreed to supply Lucid Motors.

Regarding the new North American battery production site, Tadanobu said there were several candidates in mind, though he declined to elaborate. The plant, he added, will be equipped with Panasonic’s most advanced and cost-efficient manufacturing processes.

He said the site would be around the same size as the Kansas site, or about 30 GWh of capacity.

Panasonic plans to produce the 2170 batteries in Kansas and 4680 cells at a factory in Wakayama, Japan, with output starting in the April-September period of 2024. Panasonic delayed the mass production of the 4680 batteries in Wakayama to improve their performance.

The Wakayama-made batteries will be shipped to a North American customer, Tadanobu said.

He added that production of 4680 batteries could be added to Kansas in the future.

The Tesla Model Y crossover, which became the world’s bestselling nameplate in the first quarter, uses a 4680 battery, though those cells are manufactured in-house by Tesla.

The upcoming Tesla Cybertruck, to be made in Texas, is also expected to use 4680 batteries.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Panasonic plans to consolidate and expand its battery development and manufacturing footprint to create mother facilities for its global business. The company plans to add 1,000 employees through March to boost battery development and production here.

The build-out will include a new cell technology center that will open near Osaka in 2025.

Panasonic plans to increase the performance of next-generation batteries by reducing the use of nickel and rare-earth metals while increasing the use of graphite, Tadanobu said.

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