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Report: Panasonic will start prototype production for new Tesla battery cells in 2021

At Tesla itself, production of its own battery cells presented at the end of September has already started on a small scale, and from next year the long-term partner Panasonic plans to produce at least prototypes of the new cells in 4680 format. That comes from a report by the publication Nikkei Asia from this weekend. It was already well known that the Japanese company, like the other two important suppliers CATL and LG Energy, also wanted to produce 4680 cells for Tesla, but at Panasonic the plans seem to be concrete.

New Tesla cell for German Model Y

The battery cell developed by Tesla, some of which has been secured with patents or applications, is not only characterized by its XL format. Due to its special design, it should be much more efficient and faster to produce. In addition, the thick cells should become part of a sandwich structure for the vehicle frame, thus saving additional weight. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, this construction will be used for the first time in the Model Y from the Gigafactory near Berlin, where the first large-scale production of 4680 cells is also planned.

At the same time, Tesla is building a large pilot plant for its own cells next to its main electric car plant in California and is likely to produce cells itself in its latest gigafactory in Texas and China. But even with the new format, the previous partners are still in demand, as Musk made clear shortly after the battery day in September. Representatives from CATL, LG Energy and Panasonic had already indicated that they wanted to supply Tesla with it.

First 4680 line at Panasonic in 2021

Tesla has developed its most important cell at the moment together with Panasonic: the one in the 2170 format, which is found in almost all Model 3 and Model Y produced worldwide (in China partly supplied by LG Energy). Nikkei Asia has now reported on the new 4680 battery that it had been developed internally by the Japanese partner at Tesla’s request. Their production on a prototype line will begin in 2021 in one of Panasonic’s existing cell factories, it says without further limitation or indication of the source.

Because Panasonic has already announced investments in its Gigafactory together with Tesla in the US state of Nevada, production of the 4680 cells could also begin there. CEO Musk would certainly not even mind if the experienced partner came from the prototype line to mass production faster than Tesla itself.

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