Panasonic’s new Kansas plant will produce batteries for Tesla and electric vehicles

Aerial view of the Tesla Gigafactory near Sparks, Nevada.

Bob Strong | Reuters

Panasonic plans to build a new battery manufacturing plant in Kansas to produce high capacity batteries for Teslaaccording to report on Wednesday from Nikkei Asia.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has scheduled a press conference in Topeka today at 5 pm local time where she is expected to announce details about the Panasonic plant.

Panasonic previously invested in and jointly operates a battery manufacturing plant in Sparks, Nevada outside Reno with Tesla, known as the Gigafactory (or Gigafactory 1). This sprawling venture has slowly reached profitability due to high scrap rates and slower-than-expected mass production, the Nikkei. informedbut it became profitable in 2021.

TeslaThe company’s appetite for battery cells is growing along with its ambitions to increase vehicle production at new plants near Austin, Texas and Berlin. The company reported annual vehicle deliveries of 936,172 vehicles in 2021, up 87% from 2020. The cost of battery materials is rising due to inflation, increased production of electric vehicles and supply chain complications exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic and Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Local news outlet Kansas City Star previously reported that Panasonic could locate its new plant, which is expected to employ about 4,000 people, in the former building. ammunition factory in De Soto, Kansas. The governor’s office and Panasonic did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

To date, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle company has primarily relied on Panasonic and other suppliers, including CATL in China, for battery cells used in their vehicle’s high-voltage batteries, as well as the company’s energy storage systems for homes, businesses, and the grid. . large scale installations.

But Tesla is also working to manufacture and commercialize its own 4680 battery cells. To achieve this goal, the company has acquired Canadian battery companies, including Hibar Systems.

In October 2021, Tesla said it would change the battery cell chemistry it uses in all of its standard line vehicles to use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells rather than the nickel cobalt aluminum (NCA) cells that Tesla had intended. use. keep using it in long range vehicles.

Panasonic is not alone in investing in batteries in the US.

In January of this year, General Motors and LG Energy announced plans to invest over $2 billion in a new battery plant in Michigan. And a Jeep maker stellantis and Samsung invest $2.5 billion in battery plant in Kokomo, Indiana, to help the automaker transition to electric vehicles.

According to research by Canalys, global battery electric vehicle sales in 2021 were 4.5 million units, about 69% of total electric vehicle sales, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.