Tesla battery cell supplier Panasonic broke ground on a new lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in De Soto, Kansas, contributing approximately 30 GWh of annual capacity in North America.
The facility is set to focus on rapidly ramping up the manufacture of 2170 cylindrical cells to match surging domestic demand within the United States. Panasonic is planning to mass produce the battery cells by March 2025, and upon completion of the facility, it will add 30 GWh of capacity of battery supply to EV companies in the United States.
Kazuo Tadanobu, President and CEO of Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., commented on the announcement:
“This groundbreaking in Kansas is an important step towards expanding our production capacity in North America to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion batteries. With our leading technology, proven expertise, and the state of Kansas as a critical partner, we will continue driving the industry forward while pursuing a more prosperous and sustainable future for our society.”
The construction of an additional battery production plant in Kansas incites Panasonic’s intention to dominate as an EV battery supplier for the numerous automotive companies in the United States. While the company already supplies batteries for Tesla through Gigafactory Nevada, the Kansas production facility is expected to funnel cells to Gigafactory Texas, where Tesla is currently utilizing 2170 and 4680 cells for the most recent builds of the Model Y.
Panasonic landed on Kansas as the location for the plant back in July but had potentially slotted out land plots in nearby Oklahoma. Kansas offered more advantages, including a hefty and diverse talent pool that is expected to fulfill 4,000 jobs at the factory. Panasonic is investing $4 billion into the plant, and Tadanobu said the facility will help strengthen production capacity in an increasing demand market.
“As the global shift to EVs accelerates, we are looking into ways to strengthen our battery production capacity in North America and meet the growing demand from our automotive partners,” Tadanobu said last month.
While Panasonic only explicitly mentioned the 2170 cells in its announcement, it is expected that the company will eventually transition to produce 4680 cells at the plant. Tesla and Panasonic have been working together to develop the 4680 cell, which Tesla unveiled at its Battery Day event in late 2020.
Panasonic reportedly sent 4680 samples to Tesla in June. Large-scale prototype production of the 4680 cells is expected to launch in Japan in May 2023, Tadanobu said.
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