Panasonic says things are well on their way.
Elon Musk says Panasonic's new 4680 batteries are absolutely critical to unlocking a cheaper, $25,000 EV. We've heard that from Musk before, and the saga of these cheaper, more powerful Panasonic batteries has been thoroughly documented. Musk, sometimes known for "just saying things," will at the very least have the batteries he needs to get Tesla's cheaper EVs up and running very soon.
What that will look like, be it a cheaper Tesla Model 3 or Tesla Model Y, remains to be seen. But for now, the batteries that will likely power these cheaper Tesla models are on their way, bringing the Palo Alto-based brand one step closer to more accessible electric cars. Panasonic says the soda can-sized battery has taken immense effort to get right, but that it is nearing the finish line.
Panasonic says it will start production of the new 4680 battery cells in April next year, with plans to establish new facilities to make the batteries already in the works. Both of those new facilities will be located at Panasonic's Wakayama factory in Japan. Right now, the electronics manufacturer says it is also working on setting up a prototype production line in Japan. For now, Tesla appears to be happy with these more powerful, more economical batteries, saying that the cells meet the standards the brand has set forth.
While those factories in Japan will be critical to supplying Tesla with the new battery cells, there could also be some Stateside facilities in the coming years. Recent reports now suggest that Panasonic is looking at a new US-based facility for these batteries. We imagine that will be done in partnership with Tesla, with batteries being built near Tesla's existing manufacturing infrastructure to save on costs.
It's no secret the price of your average Tesla has shot up in recent months and years. The brand has hiked prices across the board, but new batteries could put things back on the right side of affordable. The Panasonic cells are cheaper to manufacture than Tesla's existing batteries, in addition to being more energy-dense. However, some concerns (even brought up by Musk himself) have arisen over particle contamination.
Particle contamination is a frequent factor in EV battery fires, something Telsa is certainly looking to avoid. Their larger size means that it's easier for fires to spread from cell to cell, eventually resulting in entire cars burning to the ground, leaving nothing but a shell behind.
Still, Panasonic says it is prioritizing safety of these cells, and that their design will work to mitigate any risks. For now, consumers will have to wait and see if Tesla can realize these new cells into a cheaper offering.