Report: LG Chem to triple cylindrical-cell production for EVs, plans “new form factor” cells

Battery maker LG Chem plans to triple production of cylindrical cells used primarily by Tesla, and is developing an improved version of that cell format, Reuters reported Wednesday.

LG Chem, which also supplies cells to General Motors, Hyundai, Lucid Motors, and the Volkswagen Group, said it planned to increase production in response to rising demand, but did not provide figures or a timeframe for tripling cylindrical-cell production, according to the report. Lucid and Rivian are both planning to use cylindrical cells in the 2170 format the Model 3 and Model Y currently use.

The South Korean firm also said it was developing “new form-factor” cylindrical cells that would achieve a fivefold increase in energy density, and sixfold increase in power output, without elaborating, the report said.

Cylindrical cells from both LG Chem and Chinese firm CATL are used in Tesla electric cars made in China for local sale. Panasonic still supplies all cells for Tesla models sold in the United States.

2020 Tesla Model 3

2020 Tesla Model 3

Tesla confirmed in July that its Shanghai factory would make some Model 3 sedans with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells in order to free up more energy-dense nickel-cobalt-aluminum cells for the Semi, which is scheduled to begin deliveries in 2021.

LG Chem plans to spin off its battery business into a separate corporate entity—LG Energy Solution—in December. A September report claimed Tesla was looking to buy a stake in that new entity in order to secure a stable future battery supply.

That may become more of a priority for Tesla as it looks to continue expanding passenger-car production, while adding the Semi and Cybertruck to the mix.

Meanwhile, it’s not entirely clear whether the new format LG Chem is referring to is the 4680 format Tesla plans to make—and potentially also supply to other automakers.

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