Well, that was certainly fast. We reported in December that Panasonic may start Tesla 4680 cell production next year. 2021 has arrived, and 4680 cells are in development. When Tesla hosted its Battery Day event, it seemed it may be a very long time before 4680 cells would actually be produced and put into cars. Now, we're learning that wasn't the case. It's only been a few months, and Panasonic is already preparing to make the cells.
Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga recently provided some details about Tesla's proprietary, in-house 4680 cells. He also noted that even though Tesla will eventually produce its own 4680 cells, it will not be competing with Panasonic, its primary battery supplier. This is because, as long as Tesla continues its forward momentum, it will need many more cells that it can produce on its own. With factory expansion, as well as multiple additional Tesla factories under construction, Tesla plans to greatly increase its production output, which means it will need every battery cell it can get.
The Tsuga interview was first published on Chinese media site newswitch.jp, then shared by Teslarati. Tsuga talked everything Tesla, but arguably the most important exchange was related to 4680 battery cells. He officially confirmed that Panasonic is already developing the Tesla-designed cells. Tsuga shared via Teslarati:
“We have begun development of a new automotive battery, the 4680, for Tesla in the United States. The electrode structure is difficult because of its high capacity. The electrode structure is difficult because of its large capacity. We will make prototypes in Japan and establish a manufacturing method. High reliability is one of our strengths. There is no concern that Tesla will become a competitor (although Tesla is promoting in-house production of the battery).”
Tesla has also acquired a few battery-related companies and signed on to work with other battery makers going forward. In fact, the company has relatively new relationships with LG Chem and CATL. In addition, Tesla recently announced entering into a new battery pricing deal with Panasonic.