Does Tesla have eyes bigger than her stomach? This is what we might think after the statements made to our Bloomberg colleagues by Kazuhiro Tsuga, Panasonic's boss.The man at the head of the company that manufactures batteries for the American car manufacturer is concerned about a possible battery shortage if Tesla starts selling its Model Y. "Batteries will be in short supply if Tesla starts selling the Model Y and expands its activities next year," he said.
Tensions between Tesla and Panasonic?
The statements of Panasonic's CEO will certainly not calm the already stormy relationship with Tesla. As a reminder, in 2014, Tesla signed an agreement with Panasonic to entrust the Japanese company with the manufacture of batteries directly in the Gigafactory, which was inaugurated in 2016 in Nevada, thus avoiding imports and facilitating production. Unfortunately, the reality was very different. This vertical integration, which is supposed to reduce costs, has not got off to a good start. The slow and uneven quality of the batteries then led to significant delays in the production of the Model 3.
This new case around Model Y therefore raises questions about the future of collaboration between the two companies. Panasonic remains skeptical about the ability of the Gigafactory 1 plant to adapt to production. But for the American car manufacturer, it is the pace of Panasonic that has been a problem since the opening of the Gigafactory.
However, Kazuhiro Tsuga offers a solution to make the launch of the Model Y, Tesla's SUV, a success. In particular, he suggested starting a dialogue with the American manufacturer by also producing batteries in China, particularly in the new Tesla Gigafactory 3 plant in Shanghai. "What will we do then? It's one of the few topics to discuss with Tesla, including battery[production] in China."
The question now is what position Tesla will take. Several rumors have recently suggested that Tesla is also considering using a local company to produce its batteries for its factory in China.