Panasonic CES2023 Highlight: North American Battery Business
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Feb 22, 2023

Panasonic CES2023 Highlight: North American Battery Business Initiatives Promote Panasonic Green Impact Goals

Panasonic Group was among the leading global companies participating in CES2023, which took place in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 5 to 8. Under the concept of “Panasonic GREEN IMPACT” the Group’s exhibition was divided into four areas to demonstrate how new initiatives and technologies that contribute to solving environmental problems are changing the way people live and work. 

In the MOBILITY space, where the market is expected to expand rapidly against the backdrop of growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and electrification of social infrastructure to address and resolve environmental issues, the center of attention was Panasonic Energy’s automotive-use cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, which offer the world’s highest energy density and industry-leading safety and reliability.

During Panasonic’s CES2023 press conference on January 4, Tatsuo Ogawa, Group Chief Technology Officer, spoke about Panasonic GREEN IMPACT (PGI), the Panasonic Group’s long-term environmental vision for achieving both a better life and a sustainable environment. The core goal of PGI is to reduce CO 2 emissions from Group business activities to virtually zero by 2030 and to generate avoided emissions of more than 300 million tons 1 , or approximately 1% of current global CO 2 emissions of 33 billion tons 2 , by 2050. In addition to these longer-term goals, Panasonic introduced GREEN IMPACT 2024, its near-term environmental action plan.

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Allan Swan, President of Panasonic Energy of North America, presented the company’s EV battery-related activities in North America at the press conference. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation accounts for 27% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions—the largest of any sector. Swan noted that EV adoption is expected to increase significantly over the next few years, and predicted that by 2030, more than half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. will be electric. “ A key component in supporting that kind of growth is batteries, ” he told the audience.

As a member of the Panasonic Group, Panasonic Energy has been involved in the battery business for almost 100 years. The company name represents the Panasonic Group’s commitment to providing energy-saving products for a sustainable environment.

As mentioned in the July 2022 article Evolving Energy Solutions to Contribute to a More Sustainable Society , Panasonic Energy endeavors to contribute to a carbon-neutral society by providing environmentally friendly energy solutions and batteries, helping to build safe and secure social infrastructure and promote the electrification of mobility.

It is not enough to provide green energy solutions if the solution itself is not green. Panasonic Energy is committed to reducing CO 2 emissions from the production of automotive batteries by half up to fiscal year 2031 (relative to fiscal year 2022 levels), and through use of its products contribute to reducing CO 2 emissions by 60 million tons, a fivefold increase in impact over fiscal year 2022. The company is also taking steps to ensure that all of its production facilities are virtually carbon neutral by fiscal year 2029. Today, Panasonic Energy is taking steps to develop new ways to reduce the use of rare metals, to establish a supply chain with a low carbon footprint, and to actively promote external collaboration in process development and recycling to make this goal a reality.

At CES2023, Swan explained that Panasonic sees a huge opportunity to make a difference and unlock the electric revolution by addressing a critical roadblock—the supply of batteries. The highly automated Panasonic Energy North America (PENA) in Sparks, Nevada currently produces 66 automotive batteries per second, 5.5 million batteries per day, and two billion batteries per year, or enough to power 500,000 vehicles. As of January 2023, the plant had manufactured a cumulative total of more than seven billion batteries.

To meet the growing demand for EVs, Panasonic Energy plans to increase its production capacity for automotive batteries, focusing on the North American market, where it can take advantage of its high energy density battery technology—a higher energy density means a longer range for the vehicle—and supply three varieties of battery (1865, 2170, and 4680). The company recently announced that it will construct a new large-scale plant in the U.S. state of Kansas, and has also concluded an EV battery supply agreement with U.S. automaker Lucid Group, Inc., a manufacturer of high-end EVs known for their exceptional range. At the same time that Panasonic Energy is expanding its production capacity, it is also striving to make its North American supply chain more sustainable. Examples of this effort to promote PGI and amplify its environmental contribution include procurement of low carbon footprint (CFP) graphite from Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. (NMG) and recycled cathode materials and copper foil from Redwood Materials Inc. Let’s take a closer look at these initiatives. 

On November 2, 2022, Panasonic Energy announced that construction had begun at the site in De Soto, Kansas. Mass production of 2170 automotive cylindrical lithium-ion batteries is targeted to begin by the end of March 2025, and the initial production capacity of the new plant will be approximately 30 GWh—expanding the company’s overall production capacity by 60%. In addition to supporting the local economy with billions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs, the plant will make it possible for Panasonic Energy to strengthen its automotive battery supply system in North America at a time when the global shift to EVs is accelerating. The new plant will also contribute to the Panasonic Group’s commitment to contribute to reducing CO 2 emissions across society.

Artist’s rendering of the De Soto, Kansas facility

On December 13, 2022, Panasonic Energy announced a multi-year contract to supply lithium-ion batteries to Lucid for its Lucid Air electric vehicle and other applications. Panasonic Energy will begin supplying batteries in 2023, sourcing them from its existing manufacturing facility in Japan and, down the road, from the De Soto, Kansas plant.

Earlier, on October 20, 2022, Panasonic Energy announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a long-term supply agreement with NMG, the Canadian graphite manufacturer. Utilizing graphite materials with low environmental impact that are refined by NMG’s renewable energy sources will bring the company closer to the goal of halving its carbon footprint by 2030; sourcing materials for its U.S. battery production facilities from Canada will also shorten supply chain distances and significantly reduce CO 2 emissions attributed to logistics activities.

Finally, the purchase agreement signed with U.S. battery recycling company Redwood Materials Inc. on November 15, 2022, is for cathode materials and copper foil used in lithium-ion batteries. The recycled cathode material will be used at the new Kansas plant beginning in 2025, while recycled copper foil will be used at PENA in Sparks, Nevada from 2024. 

With its superior technology and extensive experience, Panasonic Energy will drive the growth of the lithium-ion battery industry, accelerate efforts to achieve zero emissions, and support the Panasonic Group’s commitment to leverage PGI activities to address social issues and realize a sustainable society. 

2 33.6 billion tons of energy-related CO 2 emissions in 2019 (Source: IEA)

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