Panasonic Energy Co, a company of the Panasonic Group, will invest nearly $4 billion in what is widely regarded as the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Kansas, USA. The new factory, which will employ as many as 4,000 employees when fully completed, is being set up to supply high-capacity lithium-ion batteries to Tesla. Panasonic has designated a location in De Soto, Kansas for this project. The proximity to Texas where Tesla is setting up a factory is one of the reasons Panasonic chose this location.
“With the increased electrification of the automotive market, expanding battery production in the US is critical to meet demand,” said Kazuo Tadanobu, President, CEO of Panasonic Energy.
Panasonic’s announcement comes five years after the Panasonic Group began manufacturing lithium-ion batteries at Panasonic Energy of North America (PENA) in Nevada. PENA is now one of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery factories, with more than six billion EV battery cells shipped. Panasonic invested nearly $1.8 billion in the Gigafactory. The Nevada plant began mass production of batteries in 2017. PENA’s Nevada operations, which are co-operated with Tesla, will continue even after the new Kansas plant goes into production. The new plant will use an incentive approved by the Kansas state government. Panasonic Energy has a 100-year history in batteries that spans both battery cell technology and battery business.
Panasonic is also investing huge sums in the renovation of its factory near Osaka, Japan. It hopes to begin mass production of its next-generation battery cell to supply to Tesla in 2023. Panasonic expects to quadruple EV battery production by 2028.
The cost of battery materials is rising due to inflation, increased production of electric vehicles and complications in the supply chain.
Many companies such as Samsung and LG have announced plans to invest in new battery plants in the US as the common belief that EVs would replace petroleum vehicles is gaining ground.