Lithium battery industry has brought great benefits and ushered in development
On May 10, Panasonic stated in its financial report that it will delay the mass production of Tesla 4680 batteries to April-September in 2024. This will not only deal a heavy blow to Tesla’s new models and subsequent series of actions, but also deal a heavy blow to Panasonic’s position in the industry, and once again highlight the power of Chinese manufacturing.
Mass production of Panasonic 4680 batteries delayed
The so-called 4680 battery refers to a cylindrical battery with a single cell diameter of 46mm and a height of 80mm. Compared with the current Tesla 2170 battery, the energy of the 4680 battery is increased by 5 times, the battery life is increased by 16%, the power performance is increased by 6 times, and the ability to prevent thermal runaway is also greatly improved. The key is that its cost is even lower. In short, compared to the 21700 battery, it is completely crushed.
This is why Tesla is so looking forward to the 4680 battery. As long as the battery is successfully mass-produced and loaded, it will fully enhance the competitiveness of Tesla models. It will not only improve battery life, but also reduce costs and improve safety performance.
In April last year, the first batch of Model Y equipped with 4680 batteries was officially delivered, and Tesla’s Texas factory and California factory are also producing 4680 batteries. By the end of last year, according to Tesla’s official statement, the weekly production of 4,680 batteries could supply more than 1,000 electric vehicles.
But this kind of production capacity is naturally far from enough. Tesla can only pin its hopes on suppliers Panasonic and LG. It was originally expected that Panasonic would start large-scale delivery in April this year, but it was still difficult to produce.
According to Panasonic’s official statement, the delayed delivery is due to insufficient performance, and it is necessary to further improve the performance of the battery to achieve commercial mass production. To put it simply, the 4680 battery still has technical bottlenecks, and the yield rate cannot be guaranteed.
The threshold of lithium battery is very high
The top 10 lithium battery manufacturers are also covered by China, Japan and South Korea. In fact, power battery is a typical three-intensive industry of technology, talent and capital. These three are indispensable, and they are typical existences that are both necessary and necessary. How to make the battery safe, have high endurance performance, and have a cost advantage is a huge competitive threshold.
If we look at the development history of lithium batteries again, it has been more than 30 years since Sony released the first commercial lithium-ion battery in 1991, and it has only ushered in the great development of power batteries in the past few years, because the technology is too difficult.
There are many influencing factors in each process of cell manufacturing, including the hydrodynamic properties of main materials, auxiliary materials, solvents, and environmental humidity control. There are as few as dozens of factors, and as many as hundreds of influencing factors. How to finally find the most suitable process among so many complicated processes is a test of the manufacturer’s technology and manpower, as well as the strength of capital.
The mass production of Panasonic’s 4680 batteries also shows that Japan’s competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, especially its competitiveness with China, is getting weaker and weaker. Moreover, the delay in the mass production of Panasonic’s 4680 battery is also a great benefit to Chinese top 10 lithium ion battery manufacturers and new energy vehicle manufacturers.
CATL and BYD benefit
Although Panasonic has already withdrawn from the global power battery competition, considering the performance improvement of 4680 battery compared with 21700 battery, if Panasonic successfully achieves mass production, Tesla will fully turn to 4680 batteries. With Tesla’s size, Panasonic’s market share will soon rise, and it will put huge competitive pressure on CATL.
On the contrary, the mass production of 4680 is now delayed for one year, and it is still unknown whether it will be mass-produced in time after one year, and it is also a problem that the 4680 battery will still be sufficiently competitive after one year. Since CATL’s Kirin battery was launched last year, it has now officially entered the installation stage, and this year it has even launched a condensed matter battery.
According to CATL official data: Condensed matter batteries have ultra-high energy density, and the energy density of a single cell is as high as 500Wh/kg, which is nearly three times the energy density of blade batteries and 2.3 times that of 4680 batteries. Even CATL has started the cooperative development of civilian electric manned aircraft projects, implementing aviation-level standards and tests to meet aviation-level safety and quality requirements.
As Kirin batteries begin to be delivered and installed on a large scale, especially condensed matter batteries will also be gradually commercialized. CATL’s leading advantage in power battery technology will become more and more obvious. Even if Panasonic succeeds in mass production next year, CATL, which has the leading advantage, does not have to worry about being robbed of its market share.
The delay in mass production of Panasonic 4680 batteries is not only a great benefit to top 10 power battery companies, but also a great benefit to Chinese new energy vehicle manufacturers.
Compared with Chinese manufacturers, Tesla has a very large cost advantage. If 4680 is installed on a large scale, it will have a further competitive advantage over Chinese manufacturers in terms of technology and cost. This is even better for BYD, which can gain a competitive advantage over Tesla in another year and hopefully continue to widen the sales gap between it and Tesla.
Of course, in the long run, the great development of the electric vehicle industry still depends on the technological progress of the industry. Regardless of whether the technology comes from China or other countries, in this regard, the delay of 4680 is also a small blow to the industry.