Panasonic’s chief financial officer says that pilot production of Tesla 4680 battery cells will start in early 2022. Production will be established at the plant in Wakayama and the produced elements will be sold primarily to Tesla.
During the financial results briefing, Panasonic CFO Hirokazu Umeda spoke about the production of the new 4680 battery cells introduced by Tesla in 2020. He said the company is refurbishing a facility in Wakayama, Japan, to begin testing of mass-production of the new type of lithium-ion battery that is needed as a key to making cheaper electric vehicles. Umeda said that so far the company has managed to create a prototype that satisfies with its performance. It was revealed last week that Panasonic is investing $704 million in a new facility with the goal of mass-producing 4680 battery cells there in 2023. However, this goal was not voiced by Umeda during the briefing.
The CFO said Panasonic will begin production of the 4680 battery prototype earlier this year at a new facility in Wakayama Prefecture. Initially, the factory will be used for the pilot production of 4680 cells. According to Umeda, and after various tests, a new mass production line will be installed.
Tesla’s new 4680 cell technology is being launched to go into Model Y produced at Giga Texas. However, given the manufacturer's production goals, it will need a large number of batteries, so it will gladly buy them from other producers. Panasonic said it would aim to sell the new cells to other electric vehicle makers as well but would prioritize deliveries to Tesla. Panasonic "receiving strong requests from Tesla,” Umeda said. "We’ll first prioritize supplying Tesla once the verifications are complete,” he said.
The battery manufacturer's decision to start producing 4680 battery cells in Japan was made because of the close proximity to Panasonic's corporate headquarters in Osaka, which makes it easy to dispatch experienced engineers to fine-tune the equipment.
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