Panasonic To Begin Battery Cell Production At Tesla Gigafactory Later This Year


Panasonic Cell

Panasonic Cell

According to Japanese news outlet Nikkei, Panasonic is moving forward its plans to begin producing battery cells at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

The report states:

“Panasonic will begin mass-producing components for electric-car batteries ahead of schedule at an American factory it is building with Tesla Motors, responding to brisk demand for a forthcoming sedan from the U.S. automaker.”

“The duo had initially said the lithium-ion-battery plant in the state of Nevada would be up and running sometime in fiscal 2016 — a time frame taken to mean early 2017. The plant is now set to open this July, with power cell production to begin in November. Tesla is thought to have called on Panasonic to compress its timeline after receiving a large number of preorders for the Model 3 sedan, due out next year.”

If true, then perhaps the Tesla Model 3 will be better on schedule for its launch in the second half of 2017.

Reportedly, Panasonic will also up its investment at the Gigafactory to ensure it’s not responsible for any possible delays with the 3. An unnamed exec at Panasonic stated the the corporation “would like to avoid delays in [Tesla’s] auto production caused by an insufficient battery supply.”

It sure seems as though Panasonic is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the Model 3 on track.

Source: Nikkei

Categories: Tesla

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25 Comments on "Panasonic To Begin Battery Cell Production At Tesla Gigafactory Later This Year"

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Another indication the Model 3 might not be way behind schedule. No point in spending money to speed up the production schedule unless there is a decent chance of an identified need.

Another indication *to me* that it may, in fact, come ahead of schedule. Lets hope so. Tesla and SolarCity need as much +ve publicity as they can get at the moment to offset all the gormless nay-saying on the part of the megga-money-pundits.

in fact, I think that they are working towards getting the 3 out by end of 2017 SUMMER.

This is one of the benefits of partnering with Panasonic for the Gigafactory. They can ramp up production at any time, because they can also manufacture their standard laptop batteries at the Gigafactory, and push those into their regular supply chain if the Model 3 isn’t ready yet.

Do you think they will be set up to make 2 sizes of cells? ….or are you saying they will use 20700’s in their laptops.

There is no way Panasonic can push 20700s into the regular supply chain, since there is no demand for them.

Nearly every product currently using 18650s is designed and compliance-tested around that cell configuration. A switch to 20700s would be extremely disruptive in the electronics industry, and very time-consuming or impossible to implement, depending on the application.

Alternately, the I *thought* the Model 3 was designed around the 20700 cell, so any Gigafactory production of 18650s would go to S and X production. *Perhaps* the Model 3 design can accommodate 18650s; that’s probably what the prototypes are using today. But it makes certifying the vehicle more complex (not to mention the mechanical, electronic, and software design) if they have to consider two battery form factors.


I am trying to find the exact quote where Tesla coughed up the 20700 cell size. I swear I read it. The closest I can find right now is an Electrek article that stated :
“Total capacity aside, the biggest announcement is the confirmation that Tesla and Panasonic, the automaker’s strategic partner in the Gigafactory, will manufacture a new 20700 cell format – compared to the current 18650.”

So I think my question to Nix is a valid one:

Will the gigafactory be able to produce both 18650 AND 20700 format cells?

I suppose a lot of that will be dependent on how flexible the production equipment is. I would think 90% of cell production would/could be the same for both types, at least up until the stage of putting the cell into the “can”. I’m not sure how hard it would be to have the production equipment be able to produce both size “cans”.

georges — My bad, I missed the 20700 battery cell announcement.

Sorry, I got that one wrong.

I found confirmation of what you posted directly from Elon and JB here:

“During the 2016 Annual Shareholder Meeting, at the 1 hour, 48 minute mark, Elon Musk and JB Straubel talk about why they built the Gigafactory and the innovations that they are putting into both the batteries and the factory itself.

Elon Musk confirmed that the battery cells made at the Gigafactory will be bigger than the standard 18650. He also gave a precise size. Tesla’s battery will be 20mm in diameter and 70mm in height. The 18650 is so named because it is 18 mm in diameter by 65 mm height. Using the same naming convention, the new Tesla battery cell would be a 20700 battery cell. ”

Starting at about 1:50, they are saying exactly what you are talking about:

u said: ” *Perhaps* the Model 3 design can accommodate 18650s;”

Interesting thought but I would guess it could not.

I seriously doubt that, too. Tesla designs its cars around the battery pack, and Tesla is pricing the Model ≡ to take advantage of the (hopefully) significantly lower priced Gigafactory cells. Putting in more expensive 18650 cells would defeat the entire purpose of designing the Model ≡ to use GF cells.

It seems almost certain that at some point, Tesla will start putting the larger GF cells into its Models S and X. I would guess the X has been designed to use either type; the Model S will need a new battery pack to use the larger cells.

Nix, I very rarely disagree with anything you post, and often or perhaps usually you know more than I do about any subject discussed here.

But I don’t see the larger Gigafactory cells being put into laptops, nor do I see two different sizes of cells being built at the Gigafactory. The objective here is to achieve the lowest possible manufacturing price, and that means only one form factor of cell.

Pushy, you and georges are correct, I got that post wrong. I missed the announcement of the cell size change.

I retract my initial post. =)

Initial cell production will likely go into Tesla Energy products… PowerPack and PowerWall.

The cells themselves are physically different than the cells that go into consumer electronics.

Given the demands of Tesla Energy, there is no reason to even try to move these cells into the consumer electronics space.

Yes, that is much more likely than my original post.

I wonder how many new innovations the factory will have. JB has said he had a hand in creating some new production machines. It would be interesting to know exactly what the new machines design really is.

I don’t know if anyone here reads seeking alpha’s stuff but they had one article over there where a guy speculated that they would do the last step of cell manufacturing in the pack instead of the cell factory…..namely the slow process of initial charge and discharge cycles that take up huge amount of time and expensive machinery. I kind of doubt they would do that but I thought it was a good example of a hat trick Tesla and Panasonic could pull and get a big jump on the other manufacturers.

Crank up the battery manufacturing and get that Model 3 out the door!


It probably won’t be the battery, but some little servo part or seat or handle that limits the production line.

Tesla doesn’t have proven supply chain in quantities. Gigafactory is going the be the least complex (though largest component) of the production process.

“The plant is now set to open this July, with power cell production to begin in November.”

Hmmm, I thought Tesla had been saying for some time now that production would begin at the Gigafactory in 3rd quarter this year, and would start making battery cells before the end of the year.

Either this is “old news”, or else I’m remembering wrongly. If the latter, it wouldn’t be the first time.

One year lead time is about right. They really need to start getting the pipeline full with shipable parts so they can build their pre-production validation vehicles.

Is it possible Panasonic will build a small test line in Japan with the new equipment, just to get out the first few hundred thousand cells, even while preparation goes forward for the pilot Plant at the Gigafactory?

I just think that would get them to cell production for the Model 3 Design Tests, and proof of concept battery packs, which would be needed even before production validation vehicles, since those are to be made with production line systems and products!

Good question. I, too, wonder where they got the battery cells inside the battery packs for the pre-production Model ≡’s.

However, it’s possible those pre-production cars are powered by 18650 cells. It’s possible that only small numbers of 20700 cells have been made for testing purposes, and not enough volume to fill a Model ≡ battery pack.


At the Giga Factory Grand opening and tour we saw some 20700 cells but they said they were Panasonic made. They will produce cells later in 2016.
That should be big news later this year.