Panasonic’s Ambitious Plans: Upgraded EV Batteries Expected by 2024

Panasonic Holdings Corp. is set to launch an upgraded version of its electric vehicle (EV) battery cells with improved capacity as early as this year, according to the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for EV batteries, Shoichiro Watanabe. The new iteration of its 2170 cells is scheduled to begin production at the Nevada manufacturing plant in 2024 or 2025. Watanabe expressed confidence that Panasonic could quadruple production capacity by the 2030 fiscal year without the need for heavy investments or constructing new factories.

The focus is on enhancing the energy density of the 2170 cell, which is expected to contribute to reducing the overall cost of electric vehicles. Panasonic aims to expand battery capacity while simultaneously improving productivity, as outlined by CTO Watanabe. The company is targeting North America for production improvements, with the goal of providing 200 gigawatt hours of energy in EV batteries.

Panasonic is also actively developing the 4680 cell, a thicker and more voluminous battery. The plan to increase manufacturing capacity by 10% by the 2025 fiscal year aligns with the company’s commitment to staying at the forefront of the global transition to clean, carbon-neutral energy sources.

The Nevada plant, operated jointly with Tesla Inc., will play a crucial role in the production of next-generation EV batteries. Decisions regarding production timing will be made collaboratively. Despite Panasonic’s commitment to expanding production, the company’s shares experienced a minimal decline in morning trading in Tokyo.

Panasonic’s investment in a new battery plant in Kansas, its second in North America, and plans for a third facility reflect its dedication to increasing battery production capacity to 200 GWh by the 2030 fiscal year. The location of the third plant will be disclosed by the end of the current fiscal year.

While Watanabe did not comment on the future plant’s location, he emphasized that it would require a significant workforce. Panasonic’s decision to decline state incentives for a manufacturing site in Oklahoma was disclosed in December. The company recently announced an agreement to acquire nano-composite silicon anode material from Sila Nanotechnologies Inc., strengthening its battery supply chain in North America.

The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act subsidies for battery cells made in the US provide an advantage to global brands like Panasonic. The company forecasts a significant bump in operating income during the fiscal year ending March 2024. Meanwhile, Japan’s efforts to increase lithium-ion battery production align with Panasonic’s vision, with Watanabe stating, “if possible, making them ourselves would be ideal.”

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