South Korean battery manufacturers Samsung SDI and LG Energy Solution have completed the development of samples of the larger 4680 battery cells that Tesla favours for its future production vehicles.
Samsung SDI and LG Energy Solution developed samples of cylindrical 4680 cells and are currently conducting various tests at their facilities to verify their structural integrity. They have also provided their vendors with the specifications of their 4680 cells, according to a senior industry official.
The two South Korean manufacturers are each hoping to snag an order for Tesla’s new 4680 cells. Tesla is planning to produce 4680 cells at its own factories in Texas and Grünheide, but will probably also buy such cells externally. Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic announced that it would start manufacturing prototype 4680 cells for Tesla in 2021.
LG Energy Solution intends to produce the new large-format 4680 cells from 2023. For this purpose, locations in the USA and in Europe are being considered in order to supply the Tesla plants there.
It is not yet known when and where Samsung SDI would produce 4680 cells. It had been clear since March that Samsung’s battery subsidiary was working on larger cells. At the annual general meeting, CEO Jun Young-hyun stated that larger round cells than the existing 2170 format were being developed, but Jun did not give exact specifications.
The Korea Herald, citing industry experts, writes that Samsung SDI could very well establish itself as another battery supplier to Tesla – alongside Panasonic, LGES and CATL. The statement is justified by the fact that CATL does not build round cells. Apart from the standard range models from Chinese production with LFP batteries from CATL, Tesla relies on round cells in various formats. In addition, Samsung SDI is planning a battery plant in the USA and could supply the Tesla plants in Fremont and Austin with 4680 cells from there.
LG Energy Solution is already a battery supplier to Tesla; the South Korean company supplies 2170 round cells for the four-wheel-drive versions of the Model 3 and Model Y from Chinese production. There is no contract for 4680 cells with Tesla. However, Tesla’s long-time partner Panasonic does not have such a supply contract either, but announced a “major investment” in the production of 4680 cells in January.