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Panasonic to build EV battery plant for Tesla in Kansas -Nikkei

Randy Mancini 7 Jul 13

(Reuters) – Panasonic Holdings Corp will invest several billion dollars in a factory in Kansas to supply a new high-capacity battery for Tesla’s electric vehicles, Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

The report came after Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said it was having difficulty in boosting the production of its so-called 4680 batteries, which are used in Model Y electric cars made at its Texas factory. He said Tesla’s new car factories in Texas and Berlin are money furnaces that were “losing billions of dollars” because of small production volumes.

Panasonic and Tesla did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. Kansas government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Last month, Reuters reported Japanese conglomerate Panasonic was looking at potential factory sites in Kansas and Oklahoma to supply batteries to the U.S. electric automaker’s plant in Texas.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce and its partners “continue to work with Project Ocean and are optimistic for additional opportunities with them in the future,” Brent Kisling, executive director at department, said in a statement to Reuters, referring to Panasonic battery factory project.

Panasonic aims to triple or quadruple EV battery production capacity by fiscal 2028 from the current level of roughly 50 gigawatt-hours per year, according to the Nikkei report.

Panasonic already has a factory in Nevada that supplies smaller batteries to Tesla.

The company, which is Tesla’s battery supplier for more than a decade, also said it had shipped samples of its more powerful 4680 format battery to the electric-car maker.

The new battery is about five times bigger than those that Panasonic currently supplies, meaning the U.S. electric automaker could be able to lower production costs and boost vehicles’ driving range.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Marguerita Choy)