Tesla Supplier Shows Off More Powerful Battery

Panasonic’s new 4680 battery designed for Tesla electric vehicles is larger than 1865 and 2170 models currently used in Tesla cars.

Photo: Peter Landers/The Wall Street Journal

TOKYO— Tesla Inc. supplier Panasonic Corp. showed off for the first time a larger lithium-ion battery that it plans to supply to the U.S. electric-vehicle maker.

The 4680 cylindrical battery cell gets its name from being 46 millimeters in diameter and 80 millimeters high. It is larger than previous battery cells Panasonic has supplied to Tesla.

The head of Panasonic’s battery unit, Kazuo Tadanobu, said the new cell has five times the capacity of smaller previous models. He said the battery was developed in line with Tesla’s needs and Panasonic planned to supply it to Tesla, but he declined to give details.

Mr. Tadanobu said Panasonic planned to start a test production unit of the 4680 battery cells in Japan by March 2022.

Tesla said at its earnings call in October that it expected vehicles with 4680 cells to be delivered next year. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said at the company’s battery day in September 2020 that he believed the batteries would pack more energy into the same space, making EVs more powerful and allowing them to drive further on a single charge.

However, manufacturing challenges have kept the technology from reaching car buyers.

Panasonic has supplied batteries for Tesla cars for more than a decade, and the two companies jointly operate what Tesla calls the Gigafactory in Nevada. After years of losses, Panasonic has said the unit that supplies Tesla is now profitable.

Write to Peter Landers at peter.landers@wsj.com and Yang Jie at jie.yang@wsj.com

Copyright ©2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8