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Panasonic supplier may have used Cuban cobalt in Tesla batteries

Thanks to a somewhat shady Canadian supplier, Panasonic may have violated long-standing trade statutes prohibiting using Cuba-sourced materials.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt

We recently wrote about Panasonic and its efforts to cut as much cobalt out of its lithium-ion battery chemistry as possible. Well, that seems like an even better idea than ever now because the company has, until recently, been using a Canadian supplier that sourced some of its cobalt from Cuba according to Reuters.

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Panasonic sourced cobalt from a Canadian supplier for its Tesla battery cells, and that supplier might have gotten its cobalt from Cuba.


If you're wondering why that's a big deal, then maybe you didn't pay too much attention in your US history class, but Cuba is subject to sanctions by the United States government and can't buy from the US, nor can US companies buy from Cuba. The fact that the Canadian company was supplying Cuban cobalt for US-bound batteries is sort of a gray area, but better safe than sorry, right?

Panasonic says that it had only been using cobalt from the Canadian supplier, Sherritt International since February of this year and only in batteries destined for and . In order to help skirt any possible legal ramifications, Panasonic has asked for guidance from the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Controls.