Mazda Motor Corporation and Panasonic Energy announced that they entered into discussions on establishing a medium- to long-term partnership to meet the demand for battery EVs and automotive batteries.
This is the first stage so obviously, there are no details, but we do know that Mazda is interested in Panasonic's cylindrical lithium-ion batteries for its upcoming all-electric models, scheduled for the "latter half of the 2020 decade."
The image, attached to the press release, presents three types of Panasonic cylindrical batteries - from left the 1865-type (chronologically first), the slightly larger 2170-type, and the upcoming 4680-type (currently delayed until April-September 2024).
However, there is no info on which type might be good for Mazda - we assume that it's not the 1865-type (the smallest one), and not necessarily the 2170-type (currently used by Tesla in most Model 3/Model Y versions, by Rivian and Lucid). We would cautiously bet that the 4680-type or other 46xx-type is on the table.
What we do know is that Mazda and Panasonic are talking about the use of Panasonic batteries, produced in plants in Japan and in North America. There is no surprise here as Japan is the home market for both partners, while North America is the primary target for battery investments right now - due to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) and related requirements/incentives.
"Panasonic Energy and Mazda will commence concrete discussions with a view toward Panasonic Energy supplying Mazda with automotive cylindrical lithium-ion batteries manufactured at Panasonic Energy’s plants in Japan and North America, and Mazda installing batteries procured from Panasonic Energy in battery EVs scheduled to be launched in the latter half of the 2020 decade."
In the past (2012), the two companies partnered on a pilot development project in Japan, when Mazda used Panasonic's 1865-type cylindrical battery cells in a small fleet of about 100 Mazda Demio EV (Mazda 2) all-electric cars.
The car was equipped with about a 20-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery for up to 124 miles (200 km) of range in the very optimistic Japanese JC08 test cycle. Using a 50-kilowatt (kW) CHAdeMO charger, the 0-80 percent recharge took 40 minutes.
Mazda's updated strategy envisions accelerated BEV investments in the latter part of this decade and a full-scale launch of BEVs in 2028-2030.
Kazuo Tadanobu, President, CEO of Panasonic Energy, stated:
“As the automotive industry rapidly advances electrification and is leading in this technology, collaboration with Mazda will be a major step toward the achievement of our mission of realizing a society in which the pursuit of happiness and a sustainable environment are harmonized. With our superior technology and extensive experience, we will drive growth of the lithium-ion battery industry and further accelerate our efforts to achieve zero emissions.”
Masahiro Moro, Director and Senior Managing Executive Officer of Mazda, said:
“As part of our electrification initiatives, Mazda is working with its partners in three phases to flexibly respond to changes in regulatory trends, consumer needs, and other areas. We are delighted to collaborate with Panasonic Energy, which has been a pioneer in automotive lithium-ion batteries, developing high-quality products. We will keep contributing to curbing global warming through various initiatives including our electrification strategy.”
Automotive News noted in its report that Toyota owns about 5 percent of Mazda and also partners with Panasonic on EV batteries in some projects. However, Toyota is also developing its own solid-state batteries.