Panasonic will invest as much as $705 million on new production facilities in Japan as it plans to build Tesla’s new 4680 battery cell as early as 2023, new reports said.
Tesla unveiled the 4680 battery cell at its Battery Day event in September 2020. The new chemistry had five times the energy, sixteen percent more range, and six times the power output of cells Tesla previously produced. The battery, whose name is derived from its 46-millimeter wide, 80-millimeter long dimensions, has been in development since before the Battery Day event and has not made its way into delivered vehicles yet.
Panasonic unveiled its 4680 formatted cell in October and is attempting to produce the battery as a supplier for Tesla. Panasonic spokespeople told Reuters the company is looking into various options for the mass production of the cell, but it plans to launch a test line this year. Further than that, Panasonic had no official announcements to give regarding the status of the line.
The cells will be built by Panasonic at the Wakayama prefecture in Western Japan, according to Nikkei Asia. Additionally, the Wall Street Journal stated that Panasonic could start testing production as soon as March 2022.
Perhaps one of the most significant advantages of the 4680 cell is the cost. The cells can be produced efficiently because of their battery chemistry. Additionally, the manufacturing process of the new cell is more straightforward and is expected to decrease the price per kWh by 14 percent. As batteries are the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, controlling the cost of their production or sourcing widely affects the cost of the car altogether. Tesla has tried for several years to decrease the cost of its battery cells to move closer to price parity with gas vehicles. However, BloombergNEF studies from late 2021 indicate battery costs increased to $132 per kWh in 2021 from $127 kWh in 2020.
As Tesla’s Q4 2021 and Full Year 2021 Earnings Call is on Wednesday, we may hear more details regarding the automaker’s production progress for the 4680 battery. The 4680 battery cell will likely be seen in Tesla vehicles manufactured at Gigafactory Texas and Gigafactory Berlin when production begins soon. The company has kept many details of the battery campaign under wraps.