Tesla has signed a new three-year price agreement with Panasonic to manufacture and supply battery cells at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. The general terms and conditions have also been adjusted in some points as part of the partnership.
The agreement signed last week is valid retroactively from 1 April 2020, as Tesla writes in a mandatory notification to the SEC. Among other things, the contract defines the volume in which Tesla will purchase battery cells from Panasonic in the first two years of the agreement. However, no details are known.
Panasonic was Tesla’s exclusive battery cell supplier for a long time, initially with imported cells for the Model S and Model X. In one part of Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, Panasonic manufactures round cells for the Model 3 (and now also the Model Y), while Tesla employees assemble the cells into ready-to-install battery packs in another part of the building.
But the relationship between Panasonic and Tesla had not always been smooth. For example, Tesla blamed Panasonic for not supplying enough batteries during the decisive phase of the (delayed) Model 3 production start-up. Later, the Japanese company was again told that they did not want to make investments in the Gigafactory that Tesla said had been agreed upon. Also, Panasonic did not want to invest in a factory in China to supply the Gigafactory 3 in Shanghai with cells from there. In China, Tesla now purchases from LG Chem and CATL. Even Tesla’s ambitions to build their battery cells in the future might not please some of those responsible at Panasonic.
But there were also positive reports: Since the demand for Tesla electric cars has been growing actively, Panasonic has also been able to increase production and brought Gigafactory 1 into the profit zone for the first time in the first quarter of 2020.
What is now open is what the contract between the two companies means until 31. March 2023 – it is possible that only the conditions will then be renegotiated and potential investments in the further expansion will be discussed. Or from Tesla onwards, the company will have reached the stage where it can do without a partner.