Tesla battery cells in for more juice, supplier Panasonic says

More energy could mean more juice for longer driving ranges.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tesla and Panasonic’s relationship continues to grow, despite the fact Tesla now works with two additional cell suppliers in China, and the company plans to give the electric car-maker’s battery cells an energy boost.

The Japanese supplier told Reuters in a Thursday report it plans to increase the energy density of its “2170” cells — the ones used for the Tesla Model 3 — by 20% in the next five years. More energy density could allow Tesla to pack more of them into a battery to create longer driving ranges, and potentially smaller battery units altogether.

Further, Panasonic aims to introduce a cobalt-free chemistry, which would end reliance on the controversial material mined in Democratic Republic of Congo with horrific working conditions.

The report confirms Panasonic will expand its presence at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Manufacturing lines will undergo retooling to prepare for the battery cells with added density. We heard this past May Panasonic eyed a stronger presence at the Gigafactory as its battery business reported two consecutive quarters with profits as it began discussions with Tesla.

Neither Panasonic nor Tesla immediately returned a request for comment for more information.

We should know more this September. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised big things for the company’s Battery Day, scheduled for Sept. 22. There, we could finally see the hyped one-million-mile battery.

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