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Tesla 4680 battery cell: new Panasonic CEO ready to make ‘large investment’ if production test is a success

Panasonic’s new CEO, Yuki Kusumi, is officially starting his new role and he says that the Japanese manufacturing giant is ready to make a ‘large investment’ in producing Tesla’s new 4680 battery cell if their current prototype production line is a success.

Last year, Tesla unveiled its plan to produce its own new tabless battery cell in a bigger format with a new chemistry.

The automaker claims to have solved some major issues that were preventing the industry from producing bigger cylindrical Li-ion cells in a new format called 4680.

Tesla’s new 4680 battery cells have the potential to be cheaper, more efficient, and therefore enable a longer range or smaller battery packs.

The automaker had to develop new manufacturing processes in order to make the battery cell and it plans to deploy those at scale in its own new battery factories being built near Berlin, Shanghai, and Austin.

On top of those, Tesla is also partnering with current battery suppliers to deploy their own production of the new 4680 cell.

Panasonic, Tesla’s oldest battery partner, has tentatively announced that it would be deploying a prototype production line for the new battery cell.

Now Kusumi is taking over as CEO of Panasonic and after a few years of the relationship with Tesla being up and down, the new leadership appears to be excited about the prospect of building more batteries for Tesla and other electric automakers.

When talking about the new Tesla 4680 cell, Kusumi said that Panasonic would be ready to make a “large investment’ in the production if the prototype line proves successful [via Bloomberg]:

Panasonic is working to set up a prototype production line to test 4680 batteries — a next-generation lithium-ion cell touted as the key to unlocking cheaper and more ubiquitous EVs. If Panasonic looks to be capable of churning out better performing cells more efficiently than rivals, it will make a “large investment” in their production, according to Kusumi. Panasonic will seek to supply them to Tesla, as well as other automakers.

That’s far from a certainty since again they are working with some brand-new manufacturing processes that Tesla itself admitted needed some tuning when unveiling the new cell last year.

However, the automaker got several battery suppliers, including LG and CATL, excited enough about the technology to also invest in prototype production.

Panasonic’s new CEO didn’t elaborate on the size of the potential “large investment,” but billions of dollars are often required to deploy significant battery cell production capacity in the several dozen GWh per year.

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