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Panasonic and Tesla partner for “gigafactory”

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 10:43 -- Laura Varriale

Panasonic is to supply and install battery machinery to Tesla Motor’s planned large-scale lithium-ion battery plant.

Panasonic will likely invest up to ¥30 billion ($294.7m) initially, according to a Nikkei report. Tesla aims to begin building the plant this year and to start making lithium-ion cells in 2017.

In a related development, Tesla Motors said it has broken ground on a potential site for its massive gigafactory near Reno, Nevada but would continue evaluating options in four other Southwestern states. The capacity will be ramped up in stages with the goal to equip half a million electric vehicles and to make more lithium-ion batteries in a year by 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013.

The total investment in the battery plant is to be about $5 billion with Panasonic’s share possibly reaching $1 billion.

Panasonic currently owns a stake in Tesla. A reworked contract from October 2013 includes the supply of 2 billion battery cells to Tesla between 2014 and 2017. The Japanese company announced in May that it aims to be the only maker of battery cells at Tesla’s new plant.