Panasonic’s automotive battery business has significantly grown over the last few years through its partnership with Tesla, which has become the biggest li-ion battery consumer in the world.
Now the Japanese electronics giant has announced the expansion of its battery production to support other automakers.
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The company wrote in a press release last week:
“The global market for eco-conscious vehicles has been growing in response to stricter worldwide environmental regulations on automobiles as well as a variety of incentive measures for promoting eco-conscious vehicles. The world market for automotive batteries, which are essentially required for eco-conscious vehicles, is also growing rapidly, with increasing expectations from auto manufacturers on Panasonic, the leading manufacturer of automotive lithium-ion batteries.”
Due to the demand, Panasonic confirmed that it will install new production lines to produce “prismatic automotive lithium-ion batteries” at their Himeji factory, which currently manufactures LCD panels.
Panasonic already has 5 factories producing li-ion batteries in Japan with their biggest program being battery cells for Tesla’s Model S and Model X. The company also manufactures battery cells at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada for the Model 3 program and Tesla’s stationary energy storage products.
The Japanese firm also added a battery factory in China earlier this year to support local demand.
Now this new battery production in Japan will be to supply other automakers than Tesla since it will produce “prismatic” automotive lithium-ion batteries, while Tesla uses cylindrical cells.
The new production lines are expected to be operational in 2019. There’s no word on their potential annual output.
In terms of volume, Panasonic keeps beating records in automotive battery supply, but that’s mainly through Tesla’s vehicle programs. Over the past few years, the company has lost new contracts to other competitors in the field, mainly Korean suppliers, like LG Chem, Samsung SDI and SK Innovation.
Since most automakers still use the prismatic battery cell format in their battery packs, it could help Panasonic to adjust production as those automakers release more electric cars.
In the meantime, they are still increasing ‘2170’ cylindrical cell production at Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Nevada while Panasonic’s other Japanese factories supply Tesla’s Model S and Model X with 18650 cells.