Panasonic Prototype Battery Lasts Five Times Longer

Japan’s Panasonic has unveiled a more advanced prototype battery, that has five times the storage capacity of existing batteries.

Panasonic is currently a battery supplier to American electric car giant Tesla, and its new battery prototype was unveiled to the world at a media roundtable, Automotive News reported on Monday.

Besides the ability to last five times longer, Panasonic’s prototype battery will also cost 50 percent less to make and will boost production at the Japanese company “100-fold” by the end of the decade.

Prototype battery

Panasonic’s battery chief Kazuo Tadanobu reportedly said the battery prototype will help deepen business ties with Tesla.

Tadanobu also revealed that Panasonic had no plans to make cheaper Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) EV batteries.

According to the Automotive News, Panasonic has this year established a test line in Japan to make the 4680 format, which is a 46 mm (1.6 inches wide) and 80 mm tall battery cell that Tesla says will store more energy, halve battery costs and drive a 100-fold increase in battery production by 2030.

“We have developed this because of the strong desire of the other party, and we think this can only lead to stronger ties,” Tadanobu was quoted as saying.

The development of the prototype comes at a good time for Panasonic, as Tesla has been diversifying its suppliers and forging supply contracts with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, owned by LG Chem, and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology.

Panasonic revealed battery innovations before.

In 2016 it developed a bendable, twistable battery that it is aiming at wearable or card-type devices that could be carried in wallets or pockets.

Meeting Musk’s ambitions?

But the new prototype could help Tesla’s Elon Musk meet his long-touted goals for EV cars.

In September 2020 Tesla finally held its long awaited battery event, and while it made a number of announcements, it disappointed with no news of a breakthrough battery.

Tesla and Elon Musk at the time however announced the Plaid powertrain for the Model S; a ‘tabless’ battery cells design for improved range and performance; a move towards eliminating cobalt in its batteries altogether; a new cathode plant to streamline its battery production; and finally Tesla’s ambition to produce a $25,000 (£19,600) car.

But the September 2020 event fell flat of Musk’s earlier promise to investors that the technology revealed at the battery day “will blow your mind”, and there was no announcement about the “million mile” battery.

Musk in August 2020 had suggested Tesla may be able to mass produce longer-life batteries with 50 percent more energy density in three to four years.

If Panasonic and Tesla are able to deliver this commercially, it would be a significant development as it remove one of the three major concerns for drivers about switching to electric vehicles (EVs).

Battery range has always been an concern for drivers, but so too has the high cost of electric vehicles, as well as the longevity of the batteries themselves.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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