Thanks To Tesla, Panasonic Controls 39% Of Plug-In Vehicle Battery Market



Panasonic Booth in Tokyo

Panasonic Booth in Tokyo

Panasonic Has 39% Share of Plug-In Vehicle Batteries, Thanks to Its Deal With Tesla

That’s the headline from Lux Research and here’s what follows:

Batteries for Plug-Ins and Hybrids Were a $660 Million Market in Q1 2014, Led by U.S. Demand, According to Lux Research’s New Automotive Battery Tracker

Panasonic, Tesla Motors and the U.S.A. clearly lead the charge.

According to the Automotive Battery Tracker from Lux Research:

“Batteries for hybrids and plug-in vehicles are growing fast, more than tripling over the past three years to reach 1.4 GWh per quarter. Panasonic has emerged as the leader thanks to its partnership with Tesla, capturing 39% of the plug-in vehicle battery market, overtaking NEC (27% market share) and LG Chem (9%) in 2013.”

Doesn’t that prove the importance of Panasonic signing on for the Tesla giga factory?

Market Share Graphic Via Lux research

Market Share Graphic Via Lux research

Panasonic's 18650 Lithium-Ion Cell For Tesla Model S

Panasonic’s 18650 Lithium-Ion Cell For Tesla Model S

Lux Research used “historical and current vehicle sales, detailed battery specifications for each car, and supplier relationships to create the Automotive Battery Tracker.”

According to the Automotive Battery Tracker:

  • Hybrids demanded 481 MWh of batteries in Q1 2014
  • Electric vehicles required 774 MWh
  • Toyota leads in battery demand from an OEM at 28%
  • Tesla Motors came in second at 24%
  • Renault-Nissan landed in third at 21%

Additionally, Lux Research discovered the following:

  • Lithium-ion batteries captured 68% of the 1.4 GWh of batteries used in plug-ins and hybrids in Q1 2014
  • Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) captured 28% of the 1.4 GWh of batteries used in plug-ins and hybrids in Q1 2014

The missing 4% are…?

Unfortunately, use of the Automotive Battery Tracker tool requires one to become a “client” of Lux Research, so it’s not accessible to everyone.


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17 Comments on "Thanks To Tesla, Panasonic Controls 39% Of Plug-In Vehicle Battery Market"

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Does anyone know how many MAh these cells are?

Are you referring to the 18650 cells? The highest capacity ones that Tesla uses are 3.1Ah.

Wow, my 18650 flashlight batteries range from 3000-5000mAh

Elroy there is no such thing as a 5000mAh 18650. I design and manufacture high-end flashlights that use these cells. Best I’ve seen so far is 3600 from Panasonic. You are buying cheap Chinese cells that lie about the capacity. I highly suggest you get rid of these cells and get some cells from a reputable manufacturer. It is not worth the risk. Those Chinese cells are actually dangerous. Look for a protected NCR18650B. This is the 3400mAh version but is easier to find and doesn’t cost as much as the 3600. 😉

Panasonic already makes 4.0Ah 18650s (different chemistry than the 3.1Ah cells Tesla uses in the current S and X), based on what I read nearly two years ago in a comprehensive article about what Tesla’s battery packs actually cost. The problem for the 4.0Ah cells is cost, and those are the ones widely expected to be used in the GennIII platform and in the following redesign of the S/X platform (they’ll have to because a base (or probably upgraded) GenIII will have range comparable to a 60kWh Model S for easily $20k less).

Presumably Panasonic is the biggest by W-h because the Tesla batteries are disproportionately bigger than anyone else’s.

Still, I can see why Matsushita (Panasonic) is nervous about the gigafactory commitment. It’s a huge risk for a mature company with only 1 customer using a battery form factor that arguably might not be the correct one in the long term.

Of course with risk comes reward (hopefully), but failure would not be pleasant for the Panasonic guys that make TVs, toasters, and tough book laptops.

It’s a tough decision for them….

It doesn’t help that Panasonic has been in the red for nearly a decade. They just don’t have the ability to help fund the factory from just a lack of cash.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Well, they’d be stupid not to if their profitability is being driven by battery demand..

Of course, gigafactory scale will kill profitability in the device sector (and lead to lower-cost laptops and other devices), unless Tesla goes with a more EV-optimized formfactor and tools/robots to automate that as efficiently (or more) than 18650 cells..

Only their battery division is dependent on Tesla. It doesn’t have anywhere near enough volume to be a big factor in Panasonic’s overall profitability.

But you’re right that they’re not too keen on the gigafactory killing profits (although laptops won’t be affected, as they mostly use lithium polymer in custom form factors now). They’d much rather keep the IP to themselves and make batteries for Tesla and other automakers, keeping their current margins as high as they can. There’s a serious negotiation battle going on.

Yeah, they sell a lot of Model S cars and on average the Model S cars have 3X the amount of KWH of batteries as the Leaf.

The 85kWh version has approx. 7,000 cells, based on past articles.

As as a Cookie Factory do what ever your largest customer the Cookie Monster says. Personally I don’t see how Panasonic can lose out in this deal in that Tesla will keep growing and devouring more batteries. Also right now limited battery production is holding back Tesla even in Model S and Model X sales. So Panasonic better hurry it up and do something or Tesla will go some where else for their batteries.

The only way the Giga factory could be a flop is that if car demand for the model E doesn’t pick up like they say it will. But model S and Model X should at least require 50,000 battery packs a year.

And if they really push costs down, they can probably sell batteries to other car companies that will probably want to use the batteries if they are cheap.

What do you think the B-Class Mercedes has in it?

I think what is totally missing from discussion is the risk Panasonic and of course Tesla have with ever changing technology. Such a large “giga” factory will take 3 years to build before first product rolls out. Then there will be very likely far superior chemistry or battery technology altogether available from other competitors. Retooling, change of suppliers and especially rights from patent holders would incur additional cost. The competitive edge, which Tesla at this point may have could completely vanish or even reverse. What about if BYD or other Chinese producer comes with spec similar product for half the price? The advances in battery technology in the next 2-3 years will be likely significant so hard to tell who will be the ultimate winner. Recall VHS versus Beta or Blue Ray versus HD. Billions were lost or made there.

“The missing 4% are…?”

Mostly lead-acid, I would think.

Since Tesla is so important to Panasonic’s li-ion business and since that business is so important to Panasonic, I don’t understand why they won’t partner up with Tesla on the Gigafactory. I know they’re being cautious, but if they don’t join, and lose Tesla as a major customer, that will hurt.