Tesla leans on Panasonic for faster 4680 battery production as it scouts the US for a dedicated factory
Between CATL developing a superior 4680 battery technology and tepid production rates for the same at its Fremont factory, Tesla is feeling the competition heat in battery development. This may be why it has asked Panasonic to adopt a more aggressive 4680 battery production schedule. Previously, Panasonic intended a trial production run later and eventual mass production later this year. It did promise that Tesla will be a "top priority" customer for its groundbreaking cylindrical batteries.
That is an important promise as Panasonic's Hirokazu Umeda, its chief financial officer, said the company is experiencing unprecedented demand for its EV batteries.
We can’t say more than what has been released, but we are getting many requests. We seeing continued strong demand from Tesla, for 2170 batteries, but also for faster development of the 4680.
This is why Panasonic has begun scouting US locations in Oklahoma and Kansas to build a plant and bring production closer to the world's second largest car market. Tesla is notorious for the amount of pressure it can apply on its suppliers to work faster and exclusively for its own designs, so leaning on Panasonic to start mass production of 4680 batteries as soon as this year may bear fruit in the end.
Granted, CATL will still be ahead with 13% higher power density for the 4680 design of its own Kirin battery, but with the current state of EV industry affairs, mass production is key, and that's exactly what Tesla is gunning for.