Tesla has been working to ramp up the production of its new 4680 EV battery cells for some time now. Based on recent reports, it seems the US EV maker hopes to lean on multiple Asian companies to push the ramp-up forward more rapidly. Moreover, the Asian partners could help lower the cost of the batteries while increasing their energy density.
According to a recent article published by Reuters, sources claiming they have information on the matter stated that Tesla is turning to multiple Chinese and Korean materials suppliers to help with its proprietary battery cells. With new models like the Tesla Cybertruck coming soon, along with future new-platform EVs coming out of Giga Mexico next year, Tesla needs to insure that it not only has a growing supply of the batteries, but also that they're reducing costs and potentially improving overall performance.
To be clear, Tesla CEO Elon Musk already shared that upcoming Cybertruck production won't be impacted by the 4680 battery cell ramp. The assumption is that the sought-after electric pickup truck may rely on 2170 battery cells, at least early on. This has been the case with the Tesla Model Y, which was expected to use mostly 4680 cells as well. While Tesla is producing Model Y SUVs in Texas with 4680 cells, it seems they're not yet a high priority.
Based on the reports by people familiar with the matter, Tesla has already reached out to China’s Ningbo Ronbay New Energy and Suzhou Dongshan Precision Manufacturing. The sources note that the US automaker is looking for help with optimizing the costs of 4680 cell production in the US.
Reuters sources also went on to say that tapping the Asian companies will work as an insurance policy to make sure 4680 battery cell production moves forward as planned. One source added that cells for the Cybertruck will be provided by LG and Panasonic, though there's no official word on this from Tesla.
Tesla already signed an earlier related deal with L&F Co out of South Korea, which will supply the US EV producer with high-nickel cathodes. Sources claim that such cathodes will be used to boost the energy density of the automaker's 4680 cells.
Currently, Tesla is producing its own 4680 cells on a pilot line near its original factory in Fremont, California. Panasonic is also running a pilot line, and LG aims to open its 4680 production line later this year. Meanwhile, Tesla has been prepping operations at Giga Texas to eventually produce the battery cells at scale.
More recently, Tesla announced that it's targeting 500 GWh of annual 4680 battery cell production as part of a massive $3.6 billion investment at Gigafactory Nevada. However, there was no specific timeline attached to the announcement.