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Panasonic: Tesla Model Y Will Cause Battery Shortage

Panasonic Corp. warns it may run short of batteries for Tesla Inc. when the carmaker begins selling its Model Y crossover vehicle.
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Panasonic Corp. warns it may run short of batteries for Tesla Inc. when the carmaker begins selling its Model Y crossover vehicle.

Panasonic, a partner in Tesla’s Gigafactory battery complex in Nevada, has been struggling to meet demand for batteries since Tesla debuted its mass-market Model 3 electric sedan last year.

Tesla unveiled the compact Model Y (pictured) in March. At the time, the carmaker said it would begin taking orders for the vehicle in autumn 2020 and launch production in early 2021.

But that timetable, coupled with Tesla’s expansion into China and elsewhere, will overwhelm Panasonic’s capacity, CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga tells reporters. He says his company is exploring options with Tesla, including adding battery production in China.

Tesla’s Gigafactory is operating at 24 gigawatt-hours per year, well below its theoretical output of 35 GWh, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He blames inefficiencies in Panasonic’s production lines.

Earlier reports said the partners were delaying plans to expand the Nevada facility, pending improvements in the existing operation. Panasonic’s EV battery business with Tesla posted an operating loss of more than 20 billion yen ($180 million) in the fiscal year that ended March 31, according to The Nikkei.

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