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Tesla hints at Panasonic partnership for ‘Gigafactory’

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 09:35 -- Tildy Bayar
Tesla hints at Panasonic partnership for ‘Gigafactory’

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has said he expects Panasonic to partner with his company in its proposed ‘Gigafactory’ battery production facility in the US, according to reports.

Details will be released in two to three months, Musk said at the Chinese launch of Tesla’s Model S electric car in Beijing.

The company has been seeking “strategic battery manufacturing partners” for a planned production push, with the aim of producing a mass-market EV within three years.

“I would be surprised if Panasonic is not our partner,” Musk said, while Panasonic said in a statement that although no decision has been made at this stage, the company will “look into a variety of options to strengthen” its relationship with Tesla.

The planned $5 billion, 10m square foot (0.9m m2) battery production facility will manufacture lithium-ion batteries for Tesla’s vehicles. Although no site has been chosen yet, Tesla has narrowed the choice to four US states: Nevada (the financial analysts’ favourite due to its rich lithium deposits and a strategically placed rail line), Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Groundbreaking is planned for two locations in order to minimize delays, Musk said.

According to Tesla, the Gigafactory could produce more lithium-ion batteries per year in 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013. By the end of the company’s first year of volume production of its mass market EV, the Gigafactory could drive down the cost of its battery pack by over 30% per kWh, the company said.

The factory would enable sales of up to 500,000 cars per year, according to Musk.