Tokio Panasonic wants to build another battery factory together with the US electric car manufacturer Tesla. In the US state of Kansas, the Japanese are investing four billion dollars for another battery production, the group announced on Thursday. 4000 employees are to be hired for this.
“With the increasing electrification of the automotive market, expanding battery production in the US is crucial to meet demand,” said Kazuo Tadanobu, head of Panasonic Energy.
In fact, Panasonic is about defending its position as one of Tesla’s key battery suppliers.
The Japanese had already built the first “Gigafactory” in Nevada together with Tesla. Since then, Tesla has expanded its supplier network to include Chinese and Korean manufacturers. Panasonic is therefore under pressure because the Korean competition is investing heavily in US plants.
South Korea’s leading battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution and General Motors, for example, want to invest 2.6 billion dollars in a new battery plant in Michigan. Samsung SDI, another Korean battery giant, and transatlantic auto giant Stellantis announced a similarly large investment in May.
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Since former US President Donald Trump and his “America First” policy, the government has been urging domestic and foreign companies to invest more in the US. Panasonic’s billion-euro project is therefore a “new milestone for the economic and technological leadership of the USA and Japan,” explained US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel.
New battery generation
At the first Gigafactory in Nevada, there were massive problems when production started. Panasonic has learned from this experience: Before mass production starts in the USA, the Japanese group is testing the production of the new Tesla 4680 batteries on two production lines. The production processes are to be refined there so that the plants in other countries can then start more smoothly be able
Tesla boss Elon Musk has high hopes for the upcoming battery cell generation. The new 4680 batteries are to be installed in the Tesla Model Y in the future and increase the range by up to 30 percent.
By 2028, Panasonic wants to triple or quadruple its production capacity for cylindrical batteries from the current 50 gigawatt hours. Tesla is one of the few manufacturers to use cylindrical batteries that can be installed more flexibly in the vehicle. Panasonic brought its prismatic battery business, which most other automakers use, into Prime Energy Solutions, a joint venture with Japanese automaker Toyota.
More: A look at the Gigafactory Grünheide: This is how Tesla builds a car every 45 seconds