Tesla Motors has never officially announced who supplies the lithium ion cells used in the Roadster's battery pack, but it does have an agreement with Panasonic to supply cells for the Model S. Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel was in Japan this week and received the first batch of new lithium ion cells from Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi.
Panasonic has just inaugurated a new factory that is producing 3.1 amp-hour lithium ion cells. These 18650-format cells are the highest energy density cells currently being produced. Tesla is the only automaker that is continuing to use these commodity laptop cells. Every other automaker building electric vehicles is working with battery suppliers to produce larger-format cells.
Panasonic's factory in Suminoe, Japan has the capacity to produce 300 million cells annually. That would be enough for over 48,000 battery packs of the type used in the Roadster, each of which contain 6,183 cells. The new, higher-density cells should allow the use of smaller packs with fewer cells without sacrificing capacity.
Panasonic Presents First Electric Vehicle Battery to Tesla
SUMINOE, JAPAN, Thursday, April 22nd - Tesla officials today visited Panasonic's new Lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing facility in Suminoe, Japan. Panasonic Energy Company President Naoto Noguchi presented Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel with the first production Lithium-ion cells manufactured at the new facility.
The Suminoe factory will start producing 3.1Ah battery cells, the highest energy density cells available in the market. The facility will produce more than 300 million cells per year.
"These cutting-edge Panasonic batteries will combine with Tesla's battery pack technology to produce the highest-energy density EV battery packs in the world," said Straubel.
Yesterday, Tesla announced that for the first time Tesla Roadsters will be delivered to select customers in Japan.
Tesla has already delivered more than 1000 Roadsters to customers in North America and Europe. Tesla battery packs power the Roadster, the only highway-capable EV currently in mass production. Tesla is also in production of battery packs for the Daimler Smart EV's and in battery development programs with other vehicle and stationary customers. For next generation battery packs, Tesla and Panasonic continue to deepen their relationship to optimize EV cells initially announced in January.
Tesla's goal is to produce increasingly affordable cars to mainstream buyers – relentlessly driving down the cost of EVs. San Carlos, Calif.-based Tesla sells cars online and has delivered nearly 1000 Roadsters to customers in North America and Europe. Tesla has showrooms in California's Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Boulder, South Florida, Chicago, London, Munich and Monaco. The Tesla Roadster is faster than many sports cars yet more efficient than a hybrid.