Tesla is pushing for faster development of new 4680 battery cells, the CFO of battery supplier Panasonic said in an interview with Bloomberg published Wednesday.
Hirokazu Umeda noted this in a briefing after the release of Panasonic’s quarterly financial results, while noting that the Japanese company is still seeing stronger demand from Tesla for the current 2170 cells.
The 4680 cells—which are longer and wider than the 2170 cells while retaining a cylindrical form factor—have been championed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk as the key to unlocking cheaper electric cars, as well as more power-intensive applications like the Tesla Semi and Cybertruck. Panasonic is also betting the new technology will pave the way to supply other automakers beyond Tesla.
Future Tesla cell will make energy, power gains
Panasonic has been scouting locations in Oklahoma and Kansas for a United States factory to build the 4680 cells, Bloomberg reported in March. But there were no updates in Panasonic’s quarterly earnings call and, earlier this year, the company confirmed that it will make the new format initially in Japan.
The company will likely need to ramp-up production as it addresses technical challenges of manufacturing the new cells. Last year it became clear that multiple battery suppliers would be willing to make the new format. Panasonic, however, last fall said that making them “requires new techniques.”
Tesla has reached a cumulative million 4680 cells made at its pilot facility, although that’s nowhere close to what’s needed to supply Model Y and Model 3 production, which is the automaker’s interim goal. Musk suggested in April 2021 that the cells were not more than 18 months away from volume production.