Panasonic's new President and CEO Yuki Kusumi is on a mission to oversee the company's operations from the manufacturing floor up, focusing on improving efficiency.
"Panasonic is working to set up a prototype production line to test 4680 batteries — a next-generation lithium-ion cell touted as the key to unlocking cheaper and more ubiquitous EVs. If Panasonic looks to be capable of churning out better performing cells more efficiently than rivals, it will make a “large investment” in their production, according to Kusumi. Panasonic will seek to supply them to Tesla, as well as other automakers."
The new CEO said also that previously, the company's productivity was insufficient, pointing at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
As we know from the previous report, the Japanese company intends first to install equipment for prototype production of Tesla's 4860 cells in FY2022 (from April 1, 2021 to the end of March 2022) in Japan.
The company is very interested in the new cell format because its highly sophisticated manufacturing process would be a perfect opportunity for a company like Panasonic.
Depending on the initial results, we might see a major multi-billion investment in a new gigafactory, however, Panasonic must also remember to reduce its reliance on Tesla. At this point, we don't know whether there are any other major EV manufacturers interested in the 4680 cell format.
It will be very interesting what Panasonic will decide. In the last couple of years, its investments in new EV battery manufacturing were small compared to LG Chem's LG Energy Solution, CATL, SK Innovation and some other players.