Panasonic has announced a five-year-plan for boosting the energy density of the "2170" battery cells it supplies to Tesla by 20 percent.
The company, which has partnered with Tesla to make its batteries, will also commercialize a cobalt-free version in the next two to three years, the head of Panasonic's U.S. EV battery business expressed.
Boosting Tesla's range
Panasonic teamed up with Tesla and introduced the “2170” lithium-ion cells, with nickel-cobalt-aluminum (NCA) cathode chemistry, for Tesla’s Model 3 in 2017.
As Reuters reports, researchers say that the “2170” battery already has a quite high energy density at above 700 watt-hours per litre. So an even higher density would give an impressive increase to how much an EV can run on a single charge.
The cobalt-free version, meanwhile, would do away with a component that is controversial due to the fact that it is predominantly mined under questionable conditions in war-torn regions.
Tesla CEO has often stated that he wants to move to zero-cobalt battery cells. In order to move in the right direction. Tesla Energy Business division chief Yasuaki Takamoto told Reuters that Panasonic has already cut cobalt content to under 5 per cent in their the NCA cathode and is planning to incrementally decrease its cobalt content.
Though Panasonic plays a large part in Tesla's battery production, the company recently lost its status as Tesla's exclusive battery supplier. The EV company recently also partnered with South Korea's LG and China's CATL.
In any case, from September, Panasonic will start converting lines at its factory in Nevada that it operates with Tesla as it prepares to further increase the energy density of its "2170" cells, which it has already boosted by 5 percent, Takamoto said.
The design has been adjusted for better thermal stability in order to reduce the safety risk associated with higher density and less cobalt, Takamoto explained.
For those waiting for more Tesla batter updates, Tesla's Elon Musk has said more will be revealed at the company's upcoming "Battery Day" presentation scheduled for September 22. The electric vehicle company also aims to introduce a million-mile battery later this year, produced in a collaboration with CATL.