Tesla has received a $100 million investment from Panasonic to increase battery production at the automaker’s Gigafactory 1 manufacturing facility in Sparks, Nevada.
The Gigafactory 1 battery plant, often referred to as Giga Nevada, will increase by one production line to 14 total lines because of the investment. It will increase production capacity by 10% and will bring Giga Nevada’s production rate to 39 gigawatt-hours per year.
Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga stated in May 2019 that Giga Nevada had achieved a theoretical capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours per year, but utilization levels had resulted in 24 gigawatt-hour output.
The expansion will be the first to ever occur at Giga Nevada since it started mass-producing battery cells in January 2017, The Nikkei Asian Review reported. The batteries that are produced at the plant will also increase in storage capacity by 5% starting in September, Panasonic said.
The increase in cell storage capacity contributes to Tesla’s desire to increase its 2710 battery cell density by 20% within the next five years.
In May, Reuters reported that Tesla and Panasonic were in discussions to begin expanding Giga Nevada because of an increase in demand for the automaker’s electric cars.
“We are seeing strong demand from Tesla,” Panasonic Chief Financial Officer Hirokazu Umeda said during an earnings briefing on May 18. “We are in discussions right now.”
Panasonic lost its status as Tesla’s exclusive battery supplier after LG Chem was chosen to manufacture cells for the company’s China-made Model 3 sedan that is produced at Giga Shanghai. Additionally, Panasonic and Tesla ended their partnership at Giga New York, where the company manufactures its solar products.
Tesla has experienced an increase in demand since the beginning of 2020, adding to the company’s ever-growing fleet of sustainable electric vehicles. After the Model 3 made Tesla a mass-market company because of the car’s affordable pricing points, the automaker released a second vehicle, the Model Y, which was also priced for more people to be able to purchase.
Tesla’s increase in battery production has contributed to the drop in pricing for its cars. As cell manufacturing continues to increase, electric vehicles will begin to reach price parity with gas-powered automobiles.
Demand for Tesla’s EVs has led to the company expanding its production facilities to the already functioning Giga Shanghai in China and the under-construction Giga Berlin in Germany. In the United States, Tesla announced during its Q2 Earnings Call that it would be building a new plant in Austin, Texas, which would handle vehicle production for customers in the Eastern half of North America.
With Tesla’s annual production capacity for its vehicles set to exceed 1 million cars in 2021, the capacity for battery production is also likely to increase, according to Panasonic officials.
Tesla will hold a “Battery Day” event on September 22, where it will detail developments and advancements it made in its cells. Rumors have spread that indicate Tesla will unveil a million-mile capable battery, but these rumors are unconfirmed