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Panasonic inaugurates electric vehicle battery factory in China

Panasonic unveiled today its latest battery manufacturing facility and first in China. The ~$400 million plant, which was first announced in 2015, will manufacture battery cells for the growing electric vehicle market in China.

The Japanese electronics giant claims that the projected annual capacity will support the production of “around 200,000 electric vehicles”.

They plan to supply “hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles”, therefore, it’s not clear what the overall production will be in term of energy capacity since they can make 10 hybrid car batteries with 1 all-electric car battery pack.

When taking into account the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada, it’s the second new production facility for electric vehicle batteries that Panasonic is launching this year.

They see the demand increasing continuously:

“Panasonic has provided automotive lithium-ion batteries to a number of auto manufacturers on a global basis and is leading the automotive battery market. Furthermore, in response to further increase in the demand of high-performance automotive lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic not only increased production at Japanese sites but will also start automotive battery cell production in the United States in 2017. The newly constructed factory in China is a new production facility of Panasonic Automotive Energy Dalian Co., Ltd., an automotive battery joint venture established between Panasonic and Dalian Levear Electric Co., Ltd. in February 2016.”

Though unlike the Tesla Gigafactory, Panasonic will be producing “prismatic type lithium-ion batteries” at this new plant in China.

Most electric car manufacturers use rectangular-shaped batteries, but Tesla stands out by having pioneered the use of cylindrical cells primarily used for laptops in electric vehicles, starting with the Tesla Roadster in 2008 and the automaker has been using variations of the same cells ever since. The cells produced at the Gigafactory will represent the biggest change yet by using a new format: ‘18650’ to ‘2170’.

Electric vehicle startups like Faraday Future and Lucid Motors have announced their intentions to use a similar format as Tesla, but most legacy automakers are still using prismatic cells in their electric vehicles.

Panasonic released a few information about the new factory in a press release today:

[Overview of the new factory]
Site area: Approx. 170,000 m2
Floor area: Approx. 80,000 m2
Production items: Prismatic type lithium-ion batteries for eco-friendly vehicles
Production launch: Fiscal 2018, ending March 31, 2018
[Overview of the joint venture company (as of April 2017)]
Name:   Panasonic Automotive Energy Dalian Co., Ltd.
Location: 177 Haiming Street, Dalian Free Trade Zone, Liaoning, People’s Republic of China
Establishment: February 2016
Capital: 273 million RMB
Representatives: Chairman: Guochen Liu, Managing Director: Nobukazu Yamanishi
Business operations: Design, manufacture, sales, and after-sales services of automotive batteries for eco-friendly vehicles.
Employees: Approx. 500 (FY2018 plan)

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