Panasonic looks to improve efficiency in Gigafactory 1

Panasonic wants to increase production at its factory in Nevada, where it operates jointly with Tesla, by another ten per cent. According to a media report, this will not be achieved by a new production line, but by optimising the efficiency of manufacturing.

For the improvement, Panasonic plans to send production managers from Japan to Nevada, as the Japanese business paper Nikkei reports. The goal is to increase output at Gigafactory 1 to about 43 GWh annually – compared to 39 GWh so far. The additional four GWh would be the equivalent of a new production line, but the ten per cent increase in production is to be achieved by other means.

The report does not say what measures are planned. It is already known that the materials will change slightly (Panasonic plans a higher recycling share). Among other things, this concerns copper foils for anode production, which Redwood Materials also produces in Reno, Nevada, and supplies to the nearby Gigafactory 1.

The production increase in Nevada is about 2170 cells. Round cells of this type with a diameter of 21 millimetres and a length of 70 millimetres are used in the Model 3 and Model Y at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. At the new Giga Texas in Austin, both Model Y with the new 4680 cells and structural battery pack and some versions with 2170 cells and the conventional battery pack are built.

Earlier in the second quarter earnings conference call, Elon Musk had indicated that the company had secured a sufficient supply of 2170 cells to cover Model 3 and Model Y production for this year. “It is worth emphasizing that we have enough 2170 cells to satisfy all vehicle production for the remainder of the year. So we’re not dependent on 4680. (The) 4680 (cell) will be important next year, but it is not important for this year,” Musk said.

The production increase in Nevada is apparently also intended to bridge the gap until Panasonic’s planned new US factory for the new 4680 cells comes online in 2024 at the earliest.

Panasonic already has its pilot production for 4680 cells in operation and has also delivered the first sample cells to Tesla. The pilot production is located in Japan. As early as March there were rumours that a ‘megafactory’ for the 4680 cells could be built in the USA. In July it was confirmed that Panasonic will build a battery factory in De Soto, Kansas. (Paywall)


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