SUBARU and Panasonic Energy have announced that they have commenced discussions to form a medium- to long-term partnership to meet future demands for battery electric vehicles and automotive batteries in what the duo calls a “rapidly expanding market”.
The discussions relate to Panasonic Energy supplying Subaru with its next-generation automotive cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, with Subaru to purchase batteries from Panasonic for BEVs it will produce during the latter half of the decade.
The announcement is similar to that made between Mazda and Panasonic Energy earlier in the year. Mazda already uses Panasonic Energy batteries in its MX-30.
Current Panasonic Energy 18650 cells are also used in selected Tesla models, including the Model S Plaid and Model X Plaid.
Subaru and Panasonic Energy did not discuss supply volumes, but it is understood Panasonic Energy has a capacity of 12GWh per year at its Japanese domestic facilities and 38GWh per year globally. This number is expected to grow to 200GWh globally by 2030.
“We have many requests (for vehicle batteries) and are already under discussions with them on original equipment manufacturing,” said Panasonic Energy CFO Hirokazu Umeda.
“For Subaru’s Gunma plants, all batteries will be supplied from our domestic plants, but for other projects nothing has been decided yet.”
In a statement, Subaru said it is accelerating its electrification and other initiatives by setting a roadmap toward 2050, with the aim of contributing to the realisation of a carbon-neutral society.
It said Panasonic Energy will work (with Subaru) to achieve this goal as a partner by supplying its high-quality, high-performance cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, which have had a successful track record for many years.
Subaru is reportedly aiming to sell 200,000 battery electric vehicles annually by 2026, doubling that number by 2028. The Japanese manufacturer aims to electrify 40 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2030. An all-new BEV to be built at its facility in Gunma prefecture is expected to help contribute to this.
Currently, Subaru has only one battery electric vehicle, the Solterra, which is based on Toyota’s eTNGA platform and sold alongside the Toyota bZ4X.
The Subaru Solterra was expected to go on sale locally in the first half of this year (2023) but has so far yet to materialise.
For Australia, GoAuto understand the Solterra will offer up to 530km (WLTC) driving range, with dual-motor all-wheel-drive variants providing total system outputs of 160kW/336Nm.
Power is supplied by a 355V lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the eSUV’s floor providing 71.4kWh of storage. It may be charged by an included 6.6kWh AC charger or via a high-speed 150kW DC unit.
The Solterra is also available with a solar panel roof to provide additional charge to the on-board battery.
The Solterra measures 4690mm in length, 1860mm in width and 1650mm in height. It rides on a 2850mm wheelbase and offers 1940mm of cabin length, including as much as 452 litres of cargo space in five-seat mode and up to window height.