Panasonic, a prominent player in the electric vehicle (EV) battery industry, has ambitious plans to boost its annual production capacity for EV battery cells to 200 GWh by March 2031. This target represents a quadruple increase compared to its current production capacity. To achieve this goal, Panasonic has set its sights on expanding its production operations in North America.
According to a spokesperson from the company who spoke with Reuters, Panasonic intends to construct a minimum of two new factories dedicated to the production of 4680 battery cells by the year 2030. During a strategy presentation, Panasonic’s CEO, Yuki Kusumi, mentioned that the exact location for this expansion within North America has not yet been determined. He stated, “It could be Nevada, it could be Kansas, or it could be somewhere else.”
Panasonic’s strategy presentation emphasized that EV batteries represent a “priority investment area” for the company. The presentation highlighted the anticipated rapid growth of the North American market and the increasing demand for round cells, primarily due to a re-evaluation of their advantages. Notably, Panasonic has made significant strides in developing cobalt-free batteries, having successfully produced the first cathode with less than five percent cobalt content. The company envisions cobalt-free batteries being within reach in the near future. The presentation also outlined a projection that round cells will achieve an energy density of 1,000 Wh/l by 2030.
Presently, Panasonic manufactures 2170-format battery cells at its Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, which operates in collaboration with Tesla. Additionally, the company commenced construction of a new factory in Kansas at the end of 2022. From March 2025, this facility will produce round cells of the 2170 format. Reports have also indicated that Panasonic is considering the establishment of a battery cell plant in Oklahoma.
While Kansas has been frequently mentioned as a potential location for producing the larger Panasonic cells in the 4680 format, the company has only confirmed production of the 2170 format thus far. Panasonic recently announced a delay in the commencement of mass production for the latter, pushing the start date from April to September 2024.
There have been reports suggesting that Panasonic may collaborate with Stellantis and BMW to establish battery plants in North America. BMW currently utilizes round cells with a diameter of 46 millimeters in its New Class electric cars, but not the cells with a height of 80 millimeters. The round cells employed in BMW’s flat models measure 95 millimeters in height and even 120 millimeters in the case of SUV models.
It has been confirmed that Panasonic will supply its round cells, most likely in the 2170 format initially, to Lucid Motors and Hexagon Purus. Panasonic has signed supply contracts with both companies, although specific details have not yet been disclosed. In 2020, Lucid Motors entered into a battery supply agreement with LG Chem, which will remain in effect until 2023.
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