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Tesla partner Panasonic will add funding to Gigafactory if needed, says exec

On the heels of news that Tesla has managed to hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 per week, Panasonic Corp, the company’s battery partner, has stated that it would consider additional investment in the Nevada Gigafactory if requested by the electric car maker.

According to Yoshio Ito, the chief of Panasonic’s automotive business, the additional funding, if Tesla does request for it, would come on top of the ~$1.6 billion that the Japanese battery company is contributing to the $5 billion Nevada facility. Ito related Panasonic’s update during a media roundtable on Monday.

“We would, of course, consider additional investment if we are requested to do so,” Ito said, according to a Reuters report.

Panasonic currently stands as the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla’s electric cars and energy storage products. During a general shareholders meeting last week, Ito noted that the accelerating pace of the Model 3’s production has already been causing battery cell shortages.

Ito’s latest statement comes as the latest vote of confidence for Tesla, which recently confirmed via a leaked Elon Musk email that it has managed to produce 5,000 Model 3 on top of 2,000 Model S and Model X in seven days. With the confirmation from Elon Musk, the company has managed to produce 7,000 vehicles in a single week — a feat that has eluded the company since the Model 3 started production last year.

Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada is the lifeblood of the Model 3 production, considering that its battery packs and drivetrains are manufactured in the facility. While the massive factory has been growing from within this year so far, signs have been emerging that the site has been seeing a lot of activity as of late. At the end of May alone, reports emerged that Tesla was flying in six airplanes’ worth of robots and equipment from Europe to the United States. The robots, which were from Tesla Grohmann Automation in Germany, were reportedly installed at the Gigafactory, enabling the company to address production bottlenecks in the Model 3’s battery module line.

Tesla has also all but finished building a new, expansive parking lot on the North side of the facility. Considering that the company’s parking lots are currently located in close proximity to the Gigafactory, the newly-built parking spaces could very well tease a renewed physical expansion of the facility in the near future. The facility, after all, is still less than 30% complete, despite constructions costs for the Gigafactory reaching $1.3 billion as of February 2018. Once finished, the Nevada Gigafactory is expected to be the world’s largest building by physical footprint, covering 13 million square feet. 

Elon Musk has also revealed plans to build Tesla’s next two Gigafactories, the first of which being in China and the next being established in Europe. Tesla has not revealed the specific sites of the next two Gigafactories, but expectations are high that the China facility will be built in Shanghai and the Europe factory will be established in Germany. As noted by Elon Musk during the company’s Q1 2018 earnings call, these next Gigafactories would incorporate both battery production and vehicles production, allowing Tesla to streamline its manufacturing in a single site.

Tesla partner Panasonic will add funding to Gigafactory if needed, says exec
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