Panasonic Flags Cell Shortage as Tesla Creeps Towards 5,000 Model 3s a Week

The sharp increase in Model 3 production has been great for Tesla fans and investors, but it appears to have put some pressure on Panasonic. Tesla’s Li-ion battery partner has stated that the ramped-up production has led to “occasional battery (cell) shortages.”

That doesn’t bode well for Tesla. Its goal now is to reach 5,000 cars a week in the next two days. If Panasonic is going to be the new bottleneck for Tesla’s Model 3 production, we may see the 5k a week goal achievement delayed until things pick up at the battery giant’s end.

Best case scenario: no hiccups and Tesla can consistently hit 5,000 cars a week through July and beyond; worst case: the bottleneck is serious enough to prevent Tesla from hitting the crucial target. Realistic scenario: the 5k a week target gets hit occasionally, which won’t cause too much of an additional splash in Tesla’s already agitated pond.

The chief of Panasonic’s auto business that makes the batteries for Tesla, Yoshio Ito, only told shareholders that the shortage was occasional. That leaves everyone to guess what the situation might really be.

Panasonic is spreading its bets on the future of battery tech, teaming up with Toyota to jointly develop EV batteries. But Toyota’s focus is on the next generation all-solid-state battery, which it aims to commercialize in the next two years.

Meanwhile, Panasonic still believes that Li-ion has the potential to be improved over the next several years; until 2025, in fact, according to Yoshio Ito.