LG Energy Solution has announced the construction of a new production line at its Ochang plant in South Korea for 4680 round cells. The line is expected to have an annual production capacity of 9 GWh – and apparently produce cells for Tesla.
LGES says it plans to start production of the 4680 cells in the second half of 2023. Tesla is not directly named as a customer, but the probability is high: no other car, truck or bus manufacturer has announced projects with 4680 cells that would require a volume of 9 GWh.
The announcement on the 4680 cells is part of a larger investment by the company in its South Korean cell production. However, the majority of the 730 billion won (equivalent to about 544 million euros) is to go into the project around the 4680 cells – specifically 580 billion won or 432 million euros.
Further money (about 112 million euros) will flow into the expansion of the production of 2170 round cells in Ochang. Here, production capacity is to be increased by 4 GWh. Here, too, Tesla is one of the likely customers: The US manufacturer uses 2170 round cells from LG in the Model 3 and Model Y, for example – alongside round cells from Panasonic and prismatic LFP cells from CATL.
With the expansion of the two lines, LGES will have a production capacity of 35 GWh in Ochang. Globally, the company is targeting around 200 GWh of production capacity by the end of 2022 and 520 GWh by 2025.
Tesla manufactures the 4680 cells partly itself – the Tera pilot plant is located in Fremont, and cell production is to be added later at the Gigafactories in Austin and Grünheide. LGES would already be the second external cell partner that could supply Tesla with 4680 cells in the course of 2023: Panasonic has built a pilot production facility at its plant in the Japanese prefecture of Wakayama and has already delivered the first sample cells to Tesla. Two additional production lines are also being built at the plant, which are scheduled to go into operation from April 2023.
The Model Y from Giga Texas already has the new structural battery pack with 4680 cells. The cell format, which, in addition to a higher energy density at the pack level, should above all promise lower production costs, will also be used in the Tesla Cybertruck and the Tesla Semi electric truck.
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