Photographer: Yuki Furukawa/Bloomberg
Tesla's 4680 battery cell will have a “considerable impact” by helping drive down the cost of electric vehicles and enabling them to become more widespread, says Kazuo Tadanobu, chief executive officer of Panasonic's energy division. The development of these new batteries has “taken an immense amount of stamina,” but it's worth it because Panasonic sees them as “a new way forward.”
Panasonic Corp. is preparing to become a major manufacturer of a new, more powerful battery introduced by Tesla in 2020. For the past year and a half, the Japanese company has been working on the larger 4680 battery, which it intends to supply to the American electric vehicle manufacturer. The development of new batteries has “taken an immense amount of stamina” in recent months, said Kazuo Tadanobu, chief executive officer of Panasonic's energy division, in a recent interview with Bloomberg.
Changing the whole shape of the battery required “considerable nerve,” Tadanobu said, adding that “we didn't know how they would be received.” Nevertheless, the work of the Japanese company was appreciated and Tesla recognized that the new Panasonic batteries are viable and meet the required level of performance.
Panasonic is scheduled to start mass production of 4680 batteries in the fiscal year starting April 2023. To this end, two additional production lines will be set up, at the Wakayama plant in western Japan, and at other new facilities. Last week it was reported that Panasonic is considering building a new factory in the US to supply Tesla with 4680 cells (probably). However, Tadanobu said that nothing has been decided yet. The location of potential new factories will be evaluated based on partnerships and the economics of certain areas, he said, and for now, production of the 4680 battery cells is planned in Japan.
After leading the development of the cells, Panasonic will work to retain its top spot, Tadanobu said. “We don't want to lose,” he continued. Ultimately, behind Panasonic's efforts with new batteries is a firm belief that the elements can change the world of transportation. According to Tadanobu, the 4680 battery will have a “considerable impact,” helping to reduce the cost of electric vehicles, allowing them to be more widely adopted. This, in turn, promises to help reduce global carbon emissions, the CEO said.
From an environmental perspective, “electrifying vehicles is the most impactful revolution that’s happening within our society,” Tadanobu said. Panasonic is working on 4680 batteries “because we see them as a new path forward,” he said.
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