Cheaper Tesla? Panasonic to develop cobalt-free battery
Nikkei -- Jan 14
Panasonic aims to make cobalt-free batteries available for Tesla's electric vehicles in two to three years, as the Japanese electronics manufacturer tries to keep pace with the U.S. automaker's ambitious mission to bring EVs into the mainstream quickly.

"Two or three years from now, we will be able to introduce a cobalt-free, high energy-density cell," Shawn Watanabe, head of energy technology and manufacturing at Panasonic of Japan, said Wednesday during an online session at CES, the world's biggest consumer electronics and technology expo.

The cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries for EVs keeps their prices high. Batteries, in turn, typically account for 30% to 40% of the cars' cost.

Panasonic is a leading supplier of batteries for EVs, along with China's CATL and South Korea's LG Chem. It has been making batteries for Tesla since 2014.

Cobalt is used in the cathode of lithium-ion batteries. The cathode used to be made entirely of cobalt. Panasonic has reduced the cobalt content to 5% over the years. But production becomes more difficult as the amount of cobalt used is cut.

"Reducing cobalt makes it harder for us to manufacture, but ultimately does reduce the negative environmental impacts of batteries and reduce the cost," said Celina Mikolajczak, vice president of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America.

Electric vehicles have become a focus of global efforts to reduce emissions. In 2019, EVs accounted for just 2.6% of global car sales. Tesla, in partnership with Panasonic, is trying to change that.

In September, Tesla founder Elon Musk announced plans to roll out a $25,000 EV in three years. To achieve that goal, Musk said Tesla will make its own batteries and halve their cost.

News source: Nikkei
Jan 26
Currently, anyone in Japan is free to dress as their favorite characters. But it might not stay free for them to do so. (kotaku.com)
Jan 26
Toyota Motor is on track to produce about 8.25 million vehicles worldwide for the year ending in March, largely sticking to its previous forecast even though a global semiconductor shortage has disrupted the auto industry in recent weeks, Nikkei learned Monday. (Nikkei)
Jan 25
Japan's major restaurant chains saw a record fall in sales last year due to the pandemic as people refrained from eating out and many businesses closed temporarily or shortened their opening hours. (NHK)
Jan 25
Japan's three major telecoms -- NTT Docomo, KDDI and SoftBank -- are gearing up for a rate war in spring. (Nikkei)
Jan 24
The Tokyo Stock Exchange says it will allow Toshiba to return to the First Section of traded shares, starting on Friday next week. (NHK)
Jan 24
Companies in Japan have not promoted teleworking much, despite a call by the government to reduce the number of workers in offices by 70% during the second coronavirus state of emergency, a survey by the Japan Productivity Center has shown. (Japan Times)
Jan 22
Japan's central bank will keep its key monetary policy unchanged. It's a signal that it has delivered sufficient stimulus for now to cushion the blow from the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNA)
Jan 21
Japan's exports were up in December from the same month the previous year on stronger demand from customers in China and other Asian countries. (NHK)
Jan 21
More than a dozen stores closed in Tokyo's high-end Ginza Six mall this week as the coronavirus pandemic kept big-spending foreign tourists and other luxury shoppers away from an upscale shopping district famous for brand-name boutiques. (Japan Today)
Jan 21
Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc. is considering selling its 48-story headquarters building in Tokyo for some 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion), which would make it the highest-priced building to be sold in Japan, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Jan 20
Japan’s wholesale electricity prices hit the maximum possible for a third day after the government set upper limits on moves last week amid the worst power crunch since the Fukushima disaster nearly a decade ago. (Reuters)
Jan 20
One of Japan's top sporting venues is about to get a new owner. The Tokyo Dome, home ground of the Yomiuri Giants baseball team, will be part of real estate company Mitsui Fudosan's portfolio. (NHK)
Jan 20
Major Japanese retail chain Don Quijote opened its first Taiwan store on Tuesday, under the brand name Don Don Donki. (Formosa TV English News)
Jan 16
Japan's winter resorts are on a slippery financial slope as rising COVID-19 infections deter skiers and snowboarders. (Nikkei)
Jan 16
Japanese electronic parts manufacturers are making big investments to scale up output of components for electrified vehicles, seeking to establish a place in the coalescing supply chains for the rapidly growing field. (Nikkei)
Jan 16
The operator of a number of izakaya pub chains in Japan says it is closing down about 20 percent of its outlets in Tokyo. It hopes to mitigate the impact of shorter business hours due to the coronavirus pandemic. (NHK)
Jan 16
The Japanese government declared a second state of emergency following a surge in coronavirus cases in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures on Jan 7. (Japan Today)
Jan 16
Rising coronavirus cases are leading Central Japan Railway to take the unprecedented step of requiring thousands of employees to go on paid leave as passenger numbers drop sharply. (NHK)
Jan 15
Toyota will pay $180 million to settle U.S. government allegations that it failed to report and fix pollution control defects in its vehicles for a decade. (Japan Todayj)
Jan 15
Japan’s wholesale prices fell 2.0% in December from a year earlier on sliding fuel costs, data showed on Thursday, a sign that the hit to demand from the coronavirus pandemic is weighing on the world’s third-largest economy. (Reuters)