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Panasonic bet on Tesla battery to unlock $ 25,000 EVs

Panasonic Corp. bet that almost a century of car battery making experience has prepared you to make the next generation of hard battery powered by Tesla Inc. as the key to unlocking cheap and ubiquitous electric cars.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, first unveiled the 4680 battery on Tesla’s Battery Day in September as a “big bang” for cell technology that will see his company produce $ 25,000 worth of EVs, about a third less than Tesla’s most basic Model 3. While Tesla planned to make the cells inside the house, it also asked its old battery supplier, Panasonic, to start producing it as well.

Capture: 4680 cells are stronger and more robust, named for their 46 mm diameter and 80 mm high, still undisputed. Industry experts have even questioned whether batteries, such as the reduced version of aluminum cans used for sodas and beer, could be produced in bulk.

“There are important technological issues that need to be overcome, challenges that many in the industry have been trying to address for years,” said Ram Chandrasekaran, a transport and transportation analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “If left unmanaged, they can be left astray and lose the right path. But the judge is still at a loss as to whether he can deliver. ”

Panasonic said it could be a good place to see new fraudulent cells to sell. Currently, the Japanese electronics manufacturer is working to set up a production line that is a test model.

“Producing these large cells requires you to hone your expertise one or two full-time or there will be safety issues,” said Yasuaki Takamoto, head of EV’s battery at Panasonic. The company’s time-tested safety management systems “give us power up here,” he said.

The main advantage of 4680 new cells comes from the fact that more than five times the size of the 1865 and 2170 small cells that Panasonic currently supplies to Tesla. This means that the 4,000 to 8,000 normal cells found in EV today can be reduced to 500, too, meaning a few parts such as binding pieces used to assemble individual cells. The new cell structure like the 4680 “is the key to making affordable EV models capable of meaningful distribution,” said Akira Nagasaki, chief technology officer at Takamoto’s team.

The large volume, however, is also what makes the cells difficult to produce. They tend to be very hot because it is difficult to disperse the heat from their facility. They are also more susceptible to particle contamination, which is a common cause of EV battery fires that occur when pieces of minuscule metal penetrate the center of the cell, causing it to become fractured, according to Takamoto.

Compared to other heavy-duty EV batteries, Panasonic was slow to build scales, instead dictating the safety of its batteries and only increasing production at a speed where it could maintain safety standards, Takamoto said. The same knowledge that allows Panasonic to produce 2.5 billion cells a year without major security problems also gives it the opportunity to produce 4680 cells, he said.

Tesla and Panasonic’s push to upgrade the next-generation batteries come with almost all car manufacturers coming together to protect their supply of the main component. Batteries are important in separating models of car manufacturers as the industry as a whole shifts to EVs, said Chandrasekaran of Wood Mackenzie. “The most important moment,” he said.

Fearing a future shortage, car makers like Volkswagen AG want more batteries and even want to make their own. This has led to significant conflicts between OEMs and their suppliers, as battery makers are reluctant to invest in new volumes only by speculating on future sales, Chandrasekaran said.

That struggle is reflected in the growth of 4680 cells. Musk, who set Tesla’s ambitious goal of producing 20 million EVs a year by 2030, plans to make in-house cells and reportedly talks to battery makers outside of Panasonic. Panasonic, meanwhile, says it will want to sell batteries to EV manufacturers other than Tesla.

But next-generation technology also emphasizes the potential for combined benefits if automakers and battery suppliers are able to develop specific technologies today that will allow them to ride the wave of EV sales together in the future.

Musk himself acknowledged the challenge of mass production of 4680 cells when he addressed a European battery conference in November. Tesla had produced a “high-quality battery on the bench” and intended to have it “at the driver’s level” soon, but “expanding the production process is much more difficult than proving something on the staff bench,” Musk said. .

Panasonic has been mass-producing lithium-ion batteries for cars since 2010 – at the same time its largest consumer of battery has recently made its first public offering.

“Working with partners like Panasonic with extensive experience in large-scale cell production will improve Tesla’s chances of achieving the goals the company described at its Battery Day event,” BloombergNEF analyst James Frith wrote in a letter published shortly after Panasonic’s chief financial officer announced the company was operating in the new Oct.

At Panasonic, the 4680 Tesla battery he asked to produce is a potential source of growth as it looks to reduce its reliance on its once-consumer consumer business. Considering the number of EVs Musk wants to see on the streets and looking for other car manufacturers, if Panasonic decides to go ahead and produce 4680 cells “we will do that on a large scale,” Takamoto said.

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