Panasonic will increase the capacity of new Tesla batteries by 20%August 8, 2020
The new, higher-capacity 2170 lithium-ion cells will be produced at Tesla’s Nevada factory. They will increase the battery capacity and reduce the proportion of expensive cobalt in batteries. The modernization of production lines will start in September. But further it will be even more interesting – within 2-3 years Panasonic intends to develop energy-intensive batteries for Tesla without cobalt at all. As far as you can understand, they already exist and the company needs time to commercialize them.
Panasonic – Tesla’s longtime battery partner – introduced the 2170 Li-ion cell with a nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathode for the Model 3 in 2017. Even then, it had the highest capacity on the market – more than 700 watt-hours per liter. If this figure rises by 20%, as promised by the company representatives, then the range of electric vehicles or batteries will increase accordingly, which will make the car lighter and also increase its mileage.
In addition, reducing the volume of cobalt will reduce dependence on an expensive and rare element, the mining conditions of which in Congo are outraged by Western human rights activists (although in fact Tesla batteries use cobalt from Australia). And the head of Telsa, Elon Musk, has long said that he wants to completely abandon cobalt in batteries.
This will be possible within 2-3 years – Panasonic is working on a battery without cobalt at all and the company is confident that it will be able to offer an energy efficient and inexpensive solution soon enough. The production technology as a whole is ready, it takes time to commercialize it.
Panasonic has already reduced the cobalt content of the cathode to less than 5% and plans to move further towards improving the elements in stages, the head of the US division Yasuaki Takamoto told Reuters. In which Tesla models the new batteries will appear is still unknown.
Starting in September, Tesla will begin redesigning production lines at its Gigafactory 1 factory in Nevada. In the first phase, the capacity of the 2170 batteries will be increased by 5%. This will happen within a year, and within five years their capacity will be increased by 20%, Takamoto promised.
Panasonic lost its status as the exclusive battery supplier for Tesla after failing to meet the demands of the car manufacturer. The Musk company has entered into partnership agreements for the supply of batteries with the South Korean LG Chem and the Chinese CATL. The latter supplies Tesla with inexpensive lithium iron phosphate batteries. However, according to Takamoto, the average capacity of such a battery is at least half that of Panasonic’s newest battery.
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