The morning news on November 4, Beijing time, according to reports,The head of Panasonic’s newly merged battery department told the media that the Japanese industrial giant is almost technically ready to produce the lower cost and higher capacity battery cells that Tesla released last year.In October of this year, Kazuo Tadanobu became CEO.
In a recent interview, he talked about Panasonic’s cooperation with Tesla, the possibility of cooperation with other electric vehicle companies, and the energy company’s plans.
The following is an excerpt from the interview:
Q: How is your progress in 4680 battery cells? Tesla released this new battery cell at the Battery Day event held in 2020.
Answer: In terms of product development, the technical goals have been basically achieved. The capacity of the new battery is approximately five times that of the 2170 battery cells currently in use. But mass production of them requires the use of new technologies. We are currently building a prototype production line in Japan, which will be launched in phases. We will also conduct large-scale production trials and hone this process in Japan until it can be deployed quickly.
We are researching new batteries at Tesla’s request, and we assume that we will start business with the company. We have started discussions with Tesla before the battery day event in 2020. After studying the cost, the balance of the vehicle itself, and other possibilities brought about by the cylindrical battery, 4680 was determined as the best size of the battery cell.
Q: Will you supply batteries to companies other than Tesla? E.gApple, There is news that the company is considering developing its own electric car.
Answer: In principle, Tesla is our close partner, and supplying them with batteries is our main priority. However, if we can supply batteries to other companies without excessively expanding our resources, then we do not rule out the possibility of expanding our business to other companies that share our values. We are considering various possibilities for cooperation with car manufacturers.
Q: What is your goal of integrating the battery business?
Answer: For batteries, everyone from material development to commercialization and production is integrated, and it is difficult to quickly improve efficiency and accuracy. Battery development must be handled through a unified platform, not by individual departments. We have integrated the technical and marketing teams that were originally dispersed in the parent company and different departments, and this has increased our flexibility.
Q: What will you focus on?
A: We will focus our work on environmentally friendly vehicles and telecommunications infrastructure.
The cylindrical battery we developed for customers like Tesla balances safety and high capacity. We also hope to contribute to the electrification of trucks and other vehicles, because it is difficult for these vehicles to travel long distances with lower-cost lithium iron phosphate batteries. We are currently not considering the production of lithium iron phosphate batteries.
For industrial applications, we hope to make full use of our knowledge and experience in building energy storage systems for data centers in other fields such as homes and medical care. Nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries are increasingly used in medical equipment.
In order to meet the growing global demand for energy storage systems, we will also expand the production capacity of our battery plant in Mexico by approximately 20%.
Question: At present, many companies are racing to increase investment in electric vehicle batteries.
Answer: I have some doubts about whether the amount of investment is really important. Of course, we need to make a certain degree of investment, but we will avoid hasty investment, which will lead to resource diversification. We will work hard to develop new batteries and new technologies ahead of our competitors, and use them in areas where we can get more value.
It is important to consider forming a larger consortium, including in terms of materials. However, we may have been hesitating in the past whether we should take such action. We hope to show more leadership in Japan so that we can bring together talents at different levels involved in this field in order to quickly generate value.