Panasonic battery tech could add 100km to Tesla range

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Panasonic says improved batteries will also allow electric vehicles like Teslas to be roomier and lighter.

Major battery supplier Panasonic has claimed its new technology could increase range by 20 per cent, allowing for roomier and lighter EVs.

The Japanese company is working to make its batteries more energy-dense. This would mean the same size pack could deliver a longer range and give manufacturers the chance to use smaller batteries without forfeiting any distance.

To do this, Panasonic plans to use a new mix of additives to allow individual cells to run at a higher voltage without damaging the battery’s performance, chief technology officer Shoichiro Watanabe told Reuters.

He said Panasonic plans to roll out this new technology in stages over several years, then advance it enough to hit its 20 per cent target by 2030. However, he didn’t confirm how far away the first implementation of this chemistry into batteries would be.

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When its goal is achieved, the Long Range variant of the Tesla Model Y could increase its range by 100km from 533km to 633km. Panasonic is a long-standing supplier of battery parts to Tesla.

“The race among battery makers has been to come up with more potent and effective additives,” Watanabe said.

He added that, as the battery system is the most expensive element of an EV, anything that can improve performance, as well as lower costs, will help to draw more investment.

The new battery chemistry would also be combined with another new technology that Panasonic is working on, which it says can slow a battery’s degradation at a higher voltage.

This is important to its goal, because higher voltages allow for an increased ability to store energy but subsequently reduce battery performance in the long term.

Speaking to Reuters, Shirley Meng, a professor at the University of Chicago, said that “improving energy density by 20 per cent is entirely possible” but only if Panasonic can deliver on the improvements described.

Will Rimell

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