Panasonic to quadruple its battery production
Panasonic wants to increase its annual production capacity for EV battery cells to 200 GWh by March 2031. That would be around four times what it currently produces. To do so, Panasonic is focusing more on production in North America.
The company will build at least two new factories to produce 4680 battery cells by 2030, as a spokesperson told Reuters. Following a strategy presentation, Panasonic CEO Yuki Kusumi indicated that they had yet to decide where exactly where in North America to expand. “It could be Nevada, it could be Kansas or it could be somewhere else”, he said.
Panasonic Group’s strategy presentation describes EV batteries as a “priority investment area”. Panasonic sees rapid market growth in North America and increased demand for round cells “due to a re-evaluation of its advantages”. Having developed the first cathode with less than five per cent cobalt content, it sees cobalt-free batteries “within reach”. By 2030, round cells are expected to reach an energy density of 1,000 Wh/l, according to the presentation.
In North America, Panasonic currently manufactures 2170-format battery cells at its Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, which is operated jointly with Tesla. It also started building a new factory in the US state of Kansas at the end of 2022. Here, too, round cells of the 2170 format will roll off the production line from March 2025. The Japanese company is also reportedly planning a battery cell plant in Oklahoma.
Where in the USA the larger Panasonic cells of the 4680 format will be produced in future has yet to be confirmed – Kansas has long been traded as a location, but so far, Panasonic has only confirmed 2170 production. Most recently, the Japanese company postponed the start of mass production of the latter – from April to September 2024.
It was also recently reported that Panasonic could set up battery plants in North America with Stellantis and BMW. BMW is known to use round cells with a diameter of 46 millimetres in its New Class electric cars, but not those with a height of 80 millimetres. The round cells in the flat BMW models are 95 millimetres high and even 120 millimetres in the SUV models.
It is already clear that Panasonic will also supply its round cells (presumably in 2170 format for the time being) to Lucid Motors and Hexagon Purus. According to Panasonic, supply contracts have been signed with both companies. Details have yet to be made available. In 2020, Lucid Motors signed a battery supply contract with LG Chem that runs until 2023.