Tesla Motors and Panasonic have just reached a deal that will see Panasonic supplying many more high-tech rechargeable batteries to the car company over the next four years. In fact it’s an expansion on an earlier 2011 deal that will now see some 2 billion battery cells going into cars like the Model S and the Model X, due in 2014.
Before you think “meh, so what?” I’d like to point out that electric car tech is critically dependent on continuing innovation in two very high technology areas: Motor physics and battery chemistry. Without Panasonic’s “automotive grade” battery cells, Tesla’s cars wouldn’t have the impressive performance they already do–the company says it’s helped the cars drive over 130 million miles so far–that’s a journey from the Earth to the sun and halfway back. Continuing improvements in both battery systems and motors are only possible with huge cash investments.
The new supply figure could send about $7 billion into Panasonic’s coffers, which should help the company develop even more potent and safer lithium battery tech–and that’ll be good for your future cars and mobile devices. Given that a Model S has about 7,000 cells in it, Forbes thinks this means Tesla has plans to roughly quintuple its sales between this year and 2017. That’s the rise of the electric car in a plain number, right there.