Panasonic, together with Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, officially announced today an agreement related to the location of the company's new US lithium-ion battery cell factory.
The Japanese company intends to build the plant in De Soto, Kansas, investing $4 billion and create up to 4,000 new jobs. The official agreement is pending approval by Panasonic Holdings Corporation Board of Directors, but at this point we can safely assume that it's just a formality.
"Panasonic Energy plans to develop the project at a property in Kansas, which is expected to drive significant economic activity and opportunities for the local economy and could create up to 4,000 new jobs and result in an investment of approximately $4 billion."
Considering the scale of the investment, we guess that it will be a quite massive plant. However, details related to the annual output, time or even the type of batteries, were not included in the press release.
The location of the plant in Kansas was reported earlier today by Nikkei, and rumored a few times in the recent months. Oklahoma was one of the other options. The selection of Kansas was reportedly related to the proximity to Texas (where Tesla has a new EV plant) and "favorable tax treatment". It's a big win for Kansas and reportedly the largest private investment in Kansas history.
It's expected that Panasonic will produce in Kansas the all-new 4680-type cylindrical battery cells for Tesla. The prototypes of the cells were already shipped to Tesla in May. Panasonic has been previously asked to speed up its developments.
Pilot production of Panasonic's 4680-type cylindrical battery cells started in May. The next step is to launch series production (two production lines) at its Wakayama Factory in western Japan (10 GWh/year according to a rumor) in the next fiscal year (between April 1, 2023 and March 31, 2024). We guess that the production in the US will start after the production start in Japan, so 2024 maybe?
In the previous reports, it was said that Panasonic might triple its EV battery production by fiscal 2028 (2029). Considering around 50 GWh of global manufacturing capacity now (including around 39 GWh of 2170-type cells at the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada), it would be additional 100 GWh.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said:
“This project will be transformative for the Kansas economy, providing high-quality, high-tech jobs while bringing a new industry to the state that is forging a more sustainable future. This is a significant milestone for Kansas that is sure to drive economic growth and development.”
Kazuo Tadanobu, President, CEO of Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd. said:
"With the increased electrification of the automotive market, expanding battery production in the US is critical to help meet demand. Given our leading technology and depth of experience, we aim to continue driving growth of the lithium-ion battery industry and accelerating towards a net-zero emissions future.”
Kris Takamoto, Executive Vice President of Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., Head of EV Battery Business said:
“Kansas has an impressive history of being home to a skilled manufacturing workforce. We appreciate Kansas’s dedication to sustainability and its commitment to and growth in the clean and renewable energy space.”
Panasonic adds that production of lithium-ion batteries at Panasonic Energy of North America (PENA) in Sparks, Nevada will continue. The company has already produced there more than six billion EV battery cells. The plant is profitable according to reports from the most recent years after struggling in the first few years of operations.
Panasonic new battery investment in brief (pending approval):
- Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd. (a Panasonic Group company)
- independently operated plant
- location: De Soto, Kansas
- investment: approximately $4 billion
- up to 4,000 new jobs
- potential cell type: 4680-type cylindrical cells for Tesla (and potentially other customers)
- production start (rumor) as early as in fiscal year 2024 (from April 1, 2024 to March 31, 2025)
- potential production scale: unknown, but probably comparable or bigger than the Tesla Gigafactory 1 in Nevada (jointly operated with Tesla, which currently produces up to around 39 GWh of 2170-type cylindrical cells annually)