Panasonic is one of the first companies which started making Li-ion cylindrical battery cells back in the early 2000s. These were initially used in laptops. As Panasonic started supplying batteries to Tesla, the firm is not looking at a 20% improved energy density. More updates like the capacity are also included.
Reuters reported that the CTO of Panasonic Energy and leader of partnership with Tesla, Shoichiro Watanabe said they were looking for a 20% increase in energy density. Also added, “Panasonic Energy Co, a major Tesla supplier, is working on new technology to increase battery energy density by a fifth by 2030, the Japanese company’s chief technology officer told Reuters.”
With the upgrades, the vehicles would be much lighter, and more efficient, while the range would remain the same. It could also expand to other electric vehicle segments like planes. Panasonic already stated they are looking for new additives in electrolytes to achieve their increased energy density. “Panasonic Energy, a core Panasonic Holdings unit, plans to achieve those gains by using a new mix of additives to allow individual cells to run at a higher voltage without damaging the batteries’ performance, Shoichiro Watanabe said in an interview.”
Increase in energy density
According to the report, a 20% increase in energy density would likely bump the cells currently produced by Panasonic for Tesla from 750 Wh/l today to about 900 Wh/l. Ideally, Panasonic wants to up the voltage from 4.2 volts to 4.5 or 4.6 volts. Watanabe said, “If we can get that to 4.5 or 4.6 volts, I think the whole world view in terms of what’s possible for EVs would change.”
The firm is also looking into longevity, which has room for improvement.
We recently reported on Tesla looking into a new nickel and manganese-based battery cell that could last 100 years without significant degradation. Panasonic wouldn’t comment when exactly when the energy density increase would come beyond that it would this decade. The company is currently working with Tesla to start production of its new 4680 battery cell format that is expected to come with some significant capacity improvements. Panasonic is expected to start production next year.
As noted in a recent Nikkei Asia report, Panasonic opted for Kansas due to a variety of factors, such as its proximity to Tesla’s Gigafactory Texas facility and some favorable tax deals. The Japanese company is reportedly expecting to invest several billion dollars in its Kansas battery plant.
Panasonic has adopted a number of aggressive targets for its battery production activities. Panasonic reportedly aims to triple or even quadruple its EV battery production capacity by fiscal 2028 from its current 50 GWh per year. If successful, Panasonic’s capacity could reach 150-200 GWh by fiscal 2028.