Mazda explores EV battery partnership with Panasonic Energy to fuel next-gen EVs

Japanese automaker Mazda Motor and Tesla’s primary battery cell supplier, Panasonic Energy, are in talks over establishing a battery partnership to power Mazda’s future EVs.

Mazda and Panasonic discuss EV battery partnership

The business leaders revealed Wednesday that they are discussing establishing a medium-to-long-term partnership to “meet demand for battery EVs and automotive batteries in a rapidly expanding market.”

Mazda and Panasonic will enter “concrete discussions” for Panasonic to supply Mazda with lithium-ion batteries manufactured at the company’s plants in Japan and North America.

The Japanese automaker plans to deploy EVs with Panasonic batteries, but not until the second half of the decade (likely around 2025 to 2027 or later). Mashiro Moro, who took over as CEO in March, said:

As part of our electrification initiatives, Mazda is working with its partners in three phases to flexibly respond to changes in regulatory trends, consumer needs, and other areas.

Mazda and Panasonic look to build upon the relationship they have built over the years. In 2012, Mazda used Panasonic batteries for its Demio EV (or Mazda 2 as it’s known overseas), an electric car with 200 km (124 mi) driving range, according to the Japanese automaker.

The news comes after Mazda unveiled a $10.6 billion investment in November designed to accelerate EV production through 2030.

To help the company catch up in the new EV era, Mazda laid out a three-phase approach. The first includes utilizing existing technology, such as that used in its first EV, the MX-30. Mazda will also launch a series of new hybrids in China as it works toward the final phase, including a full-fledged launch of battery EVs and investing in battery production.

Mazda forecasts EVs to represent 25% to 40% by the end of the decade. According to Mazda, a big part of its strategy is “co-creating with others,” such as battery suppliers like Panasonic.

Electrek’s Take

The news comes after Japan’s largest automaker, Toyota, revealed a slate of new EV tech, including next-gen batteries, design upgrades to enhance aerodynamics and manufacturing improvements, and more to help transform the company and help it better compete in the electric era.

Mazda (and Toyota) will need to speed up the progress if it expects to compete in the auto industry’s future as it transitions to EVs.

Introducing next-gen EVs in 2025, at the earliest, is still way too late to the game. Many automakers are already achieving double-digit or 100% EV sales. Meanwhile, Mazda is forecasting 25% to 40% by 2030. And including a hybrid phase will only delay the company’s transition further.

Hopefully, with newly elected CEO Moro at the helm, Mazda can turn things around. But they will have to act urgently.