Panasonic Corp. is planning to hike the capacity for its lithium ion battery output in 2014 for both hybrid and electric vehicles. The battery maker will increase capacity at its three plants in Japan. The capacity hike will entail adding a fourth line at Panasonic’s Kasai plant in Hyogo prefecture, which produces prismatic lithium ion batteries for Toyota Motor Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Audi AG.
The capacity hike will also entail the addition of a production line at its Sominoe plant in Osaka, which makes cylindrical lithium ion batteries for Tesla Motors Inc. and batteries for personal computers.
The hike will likewise entail commencement of cylindrical battery production for cars at its Kaizuka plant in Osaka. Panasonic’s production ramp-up move came amid complaints from Tesla chief executive Elon Musk that logjams in battery supply are affecting sales of the Model S. Although Panasonic is the sole battery supplier for the Model S, Tesla is holding discussions with Samsung SDI.
According to Panasonic, the expansion will allow it to meet growing demand for lithium ion batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles. The expansion would offset dwindling business in conventional batteries for cell phones and computers. Panasonic’s global capacity for automotive prismatic lithium ion batteries has soared to 2 million cells a month from 100,000 cells monthly.
The number of cells per vehicle varies by carmaker and from vehicle to vehicle. Panasonic says that a hybrid vehicle roughly has 70 cells per battery pack, placing the company’s global capacity up to 28,000 vehicles per month. Actual capacity, however, varies since plug-in hybrids and EVs employ different numbers of cells.