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Tesla and Panasonic Collaborate to Develop Next-Generation Battery Cell Technology

Tesla Motors and Panasonic will collaborate to develop next-generation battery cells for electric vehicles. Tesla will use Panasonic cells featuring a Nickel-based Lithium ion chemistry in their newest battery packs.

In December, Panasonic announced the development of two new 18650-type (18 mm in diameter, 65 mm in height) high-capacity lithium-ion battery cells. The newly-developed high-capacity 3.4 Ah and 4.0 Ah lithium-ion battery cells have an improved nickel-based positive electrode (Panasonic’s proprietary positive electrode material based on LiNiO2, allowing for high capacity and durability). The 4.0 Ah cell uses a silicon-based alloy for the negative electrode instead of carbon, and offers a volumetric energy density of 800 Wh/L, compared to the 620 Wh/L in the current 2.9 Ah cells.(Earlier post.)

Our collaboration with Panasonic will accelerate the development of next generation EV cells, enabling Tesla to further improve our battery pack performance. Combining Tesla’s rigorous cell testing and understanding of EV requirements with Panasonic’s cutting-edge battery technology will result in custom cells optimized for use in EVs.

—JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer

Panasonic is one of the world’s largest producers of Lithium-ion battery cells. Furthermore, Panasonic is midway through a 3-year US$1-billion investment in lithium-ion battery cell R&D and production facilities. The first of the new facilities in Suminoe, Japan will begin production in April 2010.

Being selected by Tesla to provide cells for their current and next- generation EV battery pack is a tremendous validation of Panasonic’s nickel-based chemistry and the extensive investments Panasonic continues to make in lithium ion R&D and production.

—Naoto Noguchi, President of Panasonic Energy Company

Tesla’s current battery strategy incorporates proprietary packaging using cells from multiple battery suppliers. This new cell will also be compatible with other cell form factors to enable the continuation of Tesla’s strategy of using cells from multiple suppliers. Tesla has already delivered more than 900 cars to customers in North America and Europe.

Comments

DaveD

Well, we knew this was coming. Now we get to see if they increase the range, decrease the existing pack size & weight or a bit of both.

They're getting feedback from existing customers so it will be interesting to see which way they go.

Account Deleted

So as I get it Tesla will continue for now to use the 18650 format cells for their batteries. Others have argued against the use of this cell format saying it is too small and will make battery assembly more costly. Good point, however, there are also good arguments for sticking with the 18650 cells such as:

1) They currently have the highest energy density among any marketed cells and this is not going to change the next few years. Remember that energy density is most important (more than price) when you make EVs for the high-end market.
2) There are more producers of 18650 cells than any other form factor. This means that Tesla more easily can test and certify cells for alternative suppliers thereby increasing their own price bargaining potential.
3) Higher competition among 18650 cell producers helps to lower prices for such cells.

That being said I don’t think the 18650 cells will be used in EVs selling from about 2018 and beyond simply because equally energy dense and larger cells will be mass marketed at around that time.

wintermane2000

The 4 ah battery weighs alot more then the others so its actualy not all that good wh/kg wise. Also from what others said in anouther topic on them the batteries in this lineup have bad cycle life.

HarveyD

This is not a next generation battery, just a minor fine tuning of existing technology.

Mannstein

Wonder how the cost will be affected by the use of a nickel based positive electrode?

DaveD

I still think the 18650 is a silly form factor for EV's. The wiring and complexity of connecting 6,000-10,000 of these plus the cost/weight of the wiring is just not ideal.
If the industry could go ahead agree on a reasonably sized standard cell (or at least 2 or 3 good sizes) then we could start to see some competitive production prices from realistic form factors much sooner.

HarveyD

AMIC-Japan has developed a roll to roll printed ultra thin combo solar cell-battery.

This may (eventually) represent a major cost reduction for many solar power & e-storage applications, specially if it can be made transparent enough for window panes.

It would also fit into the next generation of batteries.

Treehugger

This cells will allow Tesla to make an wonderful class S, but they are by no means a panacea for the mass market of electric cars. Anyway I don't think electric cars will flourish in this starting decade, especially if oil price stays below 100$. I think electric cars manufacturers will suffer the hell until at least 2020. Even Plug-in like the Volt will be just a money sink for GM.

kelly

There's been a strong urban demand for EV's for decades.

That new EV offerings will still have only the typical 100 mile range and higher purchase cost of the 1990's EV's is the surprise.

Patrick

18650 also provides more surface area for cooling than a large format battery - if keeping the batteries from overheating is a concern.

HarveyD

The Toyota Prius III HEV is number ONE seller in Japan for all of 2009.

The Prius PHEV will probably do even better in 2011/2012.

HEVs, PHEVs and BEVs will will sell worldwide (even in USA and Canada) by 2012.

Electrified vehicles will have 25+% of the market in Japan by 2015. China and Korea may not be very far behind Japan.

Unfortunately, the very strong pro-oil lobbies in USA and Canada will delay the massive implementation of electrified vehicles by a few (10?) years.

Mark_BC

"Unfortunately, the very strong pro-oil lobbies in USA and Canada will delay the massive implementation of electrified vehicles by a few (10?) years."

I think they will try but there is nothing they can do anymore. They can't keep Nissan from selling cars.

wintermane2000

The oil lobbies have little to do with how slow ecltric drive has penatrated the us auto market. The fact is even the leaf will cost both for the car AND again for the battery resulting in quite a monthly payment. And it doesnt realy have 100 mile range as compared to other 100 mile range evs of the past. It just barely makes it using best case and is only marketed as such because of cal credits for 100 mile range evs.

Mark_BC

"It just barely makes it using best case and is only marketed as such because of cal credits for 100 mile range evs."

I think Nissan has a wider margin of charge / discharge range than the Volt, which only uses like half of the total battery capacity. GM does this to maximize battery life because it is selling the battery.

This isn't as much of a concern for Nissan because they are leasing the batteries and will replace them in about 5 years, so battery longevity isn't so much of an issue compared with getting the most range per kWh of battery capacity.

Anyways, even with the battery lease, total cost of ownership is still less, plus EV's hardly ever need maintenance, I wonder if they factored that in to the equation.

Treehugger

Harvey

Hybrid only makes 2.5% of sales in US even with oil at 80$/barrel. Your 25% sales of EV in 2015 is absolute BS, there is nothing to support that, neither the technology or the economic. GM will put an ICE car that get 40MPG for less than 20K this year, new ICE engines will slash consumption by 25-30%. Electric cars due to their limited range won't make a sale even with gas at 5$/gallons when you can get a 50MPG ICE for less than 20K. NO WAY

sulleny

Tesla is giving notice that it has many options in its battery suppliers going forward. Panasonic has a strong reputation, good quality and is highly competitive. Tesla owns the EV market since they are the only EV on the market. Their new S sedan will sell out its entire build the first couple years. Leaf, Th!nk and iMiev, are utility bugs that will help grow EV adoption but will generate no buzz (so to speak.)

ToppaTom

All hybrids and EVs total are stalled at 3% of the US market.

The Leaf is a pig in a poke.

Oil lobbies ? ? - You think they are they using GMs old brainwashing technology or what?

Why would the connection of 6,000-10,000 cells be significant?

I have not heard of open circuit failures in the stacks (don't forget the voltage is high).

Thermal dissipation is better than in larger cells.

Why would fab labor and cell stacking be a significant cost? - - Apparently the battery makers and users do not think so.

wintermane2000

The oil lobbies dont need to do anything when well meaning idiots tell people that massively better evs are right around the corner for far less... Its natural for most people to wait and see when told such things.

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