Panasonic cell lines run at ~2/3 of the theoretical capacity
Elon Musk referred to the reports about frozen investments in new battery capacity at the Tesla Gigafactory. According to Musk, Panasonic's lines are now producing 21700 cylindrical lithium-ion cells (called also 2170) at a pace of 24 GWh per year, which is not much more than the 20 GWh announced in the summer of 2018, and just 2/3 of the planned 35 GWh per year - promised by Panasonic by the end of March 2019.
This is why there will be no further investment in the new production lines (it runs opposite to reports that there is no demand for Tesla cars), until Panasonic deals with its equipment and gets closer to the promised output of 35 GWh of cells.
The 24 GWh per year output is not high enough and constrains the production of the Tesla Model 3 ("since July" 2018), as well as energy storage systems. Elon Musk said that there was no way to produce more Model 3, although production stats show that Q1 2019 was at a record - 62,950, compared to 61,394 in Q4 2018).
"“There is 35 GWh/yr ‘theoretical capacity’, but actual max output is ~2/3,” Musk said in a tweet. “It was physically impossible to make more Model 3’s in Q1 due to cell constraints.”"
"Incorrect. Pana cell lines at Giga are only at ~24GWh/yr & have been a constraint on Model 3 output since July. No choice but to use other suppliers for Powerwall/Powerpack cells. Tesla won’t spend money on more capacity until existing lines get closer to 35GWh theoretical."
We can summarize the latest news in several points:
- Model 3 is constrained by lithium-ion cell production at the Tesla Gigafactory, Panasonic needs to increase production from 24 to 35 GWh per year (by 46% before investments in new lines).
- Powerwall and Powerpack energy storage system are constrained by lithium-ion cell production at the Tesla Gigafactory and Tesla is seeking batteries from other suppliers
- Model S/Model X are probably unaffected because those us 18650 battery cells produced by Panasonic in Japan