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Samsung Seeking To Be Third 4680 Battery Maker For Tesla, Along with Panasonic And LG

Samsung SDI is finishing installing a new 4680 cylindrical battery cell production line for Tesla, joining Panasonic and LG in their quest to become one of the Austin suppliers manufacturer.


According to information appeared in Korean mainstream press, Samsung SDI, a subsidiary within the Samsung Group - the technology company dedicated to the development and production of batteries - is preparing a new production line for 4680 battery cells. The Korean manufacturer would thus become the third largest supplier of batteries for Tesla's electric cars, along with LG Energy Solutions (also from Korea) and Japanese Panasonic Corporation, which, for now, seems the most advanced of the three since production is already expected to start next year, 2023.

In the information published by Korean source "TheElec", it is ensured that the Korean company is preparing this new production line at its facilities at the Cheonan plant in South Korea. "The cells correspond to the 4680 cylindrical format (46 mm in diameter, 80 mm in length)," states this medium, indicating that the battery manufacturer "will verify the technology within a year". This same publication also states that Samsung SDI is testing the production of a battery cell similar to this one - although a little shorter - for German car manufacturer BMW.

Tesla Batteries, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Initially, the new production line will have the capacity to manufacture 1 GWh of cells per year. When the processes and technologies are fully verified, this figure will increase significantly, since Tesla indicated that it will acquire all the battery cells of this format that are available on the market, in order to meet the high demand it foresees for its electric cars.
Although the Austin firm is manufacturing these cells internally on its pilot production line in Fremont, California, it has a limited production capacity due to its own facilities and its limited experience in the production of this specific component. Up until now, Tesla has limited itself to packaging in its factories the cells that Panasonic produced in the Nevada Gigafactory, and subsequently those acquired from suppliers such as LG (Korea) or CATL (China).

Tesla's strategy is to fully rely on its internal production, in turn relying on the supply of companies specifically specialized in the production of battery cells. Elon Musk has already announced that in the future each electric vehicle will have the batteries that best suit their needs; therefore, they will use different technologies such as iron-based chemistries (LFP) and ternary chemistries (NCM and NCMA).

Samsung thus joins Panasonic and LG Energy Solutions in the race for a high-volume contract with Tesla (for supplying Model 3 and Model Y production, but possibly aiming at Model S and X, eventually). The Japanese company (Panasonic) plans to start production next year, which will make it the first external supplier to do so, while Korean LG Energy has recently invested $450 million to produce the cells at its Ochang plant.

Tesla Model 3, courtesy of Tesla Inc.

In the absence of official confirmation from Samsung SDI, the work schedule is still unclear, although the Korean outlet indicates that once pilot production is established in Korea, the company is likely to start producing the new cell in Seremban, Malaysia, with an annual capacity of between 8 and 12 GWh. The company is currently soliciting bids to place an order for Tesla-like manufacturing equipment for the production of the battery cells.

Source: TheElec

All images courtesy of Tesla Inc.

Nico Caballero is the VP of Finance of Cogency Power, specializing in solar energy. He also holds a Diploma in Electric Cars from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and enjoys doing research about Tesla and EV batteries. He can be reached at @NicoTorqueNews on Twitter. Nico covers Tesla and electric vehicle latest happenings at Torque News.