Panasonic curbs plans for expanded US cell production

Panasonic Energy is canceling the schedule for expanding its production capacities in view of the weaker demand in North America. The previously communicated mark of 200 GWh of battery cells per year for 2031 will no longer be linked to the target year mentioned.

Image: Panasonic

Nikkei Asia reported this with reference to Panasonic CEO Kazuo Tadanobu. As is well known, the Japanese company is primarily active as a Tesla partner in the market for electric car battery cells. Around a year ago, Panasonic announced its intention to quadruple its capacity for such cells to 200 GWh per year by March 2031 and to increasingly focus on production in North America for this purpose. According to the report by Nikkei Asia, the target of 200 GWh is still being pursued, but no longer at this time. “Looking at the current market, we decided that rather than be fixated on the [target] number, it’s more important to aim for a decent profit and a certain amount of market share,” Tadanobu is quoted as saying.

The Osaka-based group is one of Tesla’s most important suppliers. In this respect, the step now announced also says something about Tesla’s market expectations. At the end of May, Tesla cancelled its repeated target of selling 20 million vehicles a year by 2030. Panasonic’s curbed expansion plans now fit in with this.

Panasonic also cites that the North American market for electric cars is still growing, but at a slower rate than expected. The Group’s previous target was to triple its turnover to more than 3 trillion yen (19 billion US dollars) and quadruple its production capacity for electric vehicles to 200 gigawatt hours by the 2030 financial year, which ends in March 2031.

As Nikkei Asia reports, Panasonic wants to focus more on Japan as a second pillar of growth. The company is considering converting some of its domestic production lines, which initially supplied North American customers, to produce batteries for potential Japanese customers instead, according to reports. With this in mind, talks are said to be underway with Mazda Motor and Subaru “to supply its cylindrical lithium-ion batteries for EVs.”

In North America, Panasonic currently operates a joint factory with Tesla in Nevada. Another factory in Kansas is under construction, a third plant is under consideration – and an investment decision will be made by March 2024. Panasonic CEO Tadanobu reportedly commented that his company has “already validated a variety of opportunities, and if the need arises, we would be able to make a speedy decision.”


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