Panasonic confirmed today that they started producing their first battery cells for electric cars in China.

The Japanese electronics giant unveiled its latest battery manufacturing facility and first in China last year. The ~$400 million plant, which was first announced in 2015, will manufacture battery cells for the growing electric vehicle market in China.

A first shipment left the factory today. Pansonic says that it will supply both the North American and Chinese markets:

“Amidst expectations of expanding demand for automotive lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic manufactures the high-capacity and high-safety prismatic-type batteries at this factory and ships them to the North American and Chinese markets. Shipments will be expanded in the future to reach more destinations, helping to drive the spread of eco-conscious vehicles.”

The company says that the capacity of the plant is “around 200,000 electric vehicles”, but it’s not clear what the overall production is in term of energy capacity since they plan to supply “hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric vehicles” and you can make 10 hybrid car batteries with 1 all-electric car battery pack.

At the plant, Panasonic is producing “prismatic type lithium-ion batteries,” which are the most popular in the industry outside of Tesla.

Most electric car manufacturers use rectangular-shaped batteries, but Tesla stands out by having pioneered the use of cylindrical cells primarily used for laptops in electric vehicles, starting with the Tesla Roadster in 2008 and the automaker has been using variations of the same cells ever since.

Panasonic also manufactured those cells for Tesla both in Japan and at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.

With this new Chinese factory and the increasing production at Gigafactory 1, Panasonic is increasing its lead as the biggest battery manufacturer for the automotive industry.

Fred Lambert

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