Tesla and Panasonic confirm plans to build Gigafactory for e-car batteries

31 Jul 2014

Electric carmaker Tesla and consumer electronics giant Panasonic have confirmed plans to construct a large-scale battery manufacturing plant in the US which they will call the Gigafactory.

As reported by Siliconrepublic.com this week, the Gigafactory will aim to meet the projected demand for battery cells and meet Tesla’s goals of advancing mass market electric vehicles.

“The Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realised,” said JB Straubel, chief technology officer and co-founder of Tesla Motors.

“Not only does the Gigafactory enable capacity needed for the Model 3 but it sets the path for a dramatic reduction in the cost of energy storage across a broad range of applications.”

According to the agreement, Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities.

Panasonic will manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells and invest in the associated equipment, machinery, and other manufacturing tools based on their mutual approval.

To meet the projected demand for cells, Tesla will continue to purchase battery cells produced in Panasonic’s factories in Japan.

Accelerating the demand for electric vehicles

Tesla Model S

The Gigafactory will be managed by Tesla with Panasonic joining as the principle partner responsible for lithium-ion battery cells and occupying approximately half of the planned manufacturing space; key suppliers combined with Tesla’s module and pack assembly will comprise the other half of this fully integrated industrial complex.

“We have already engaged in various collaborative projects with Tesla toward the popularization of electric vehicles,” said Yoshihiko Yamada, executive vice president of Panasonic.

“Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery cells combine the required features for electric vehicles such as high capacity, durability and cost performance.

“And I believe that once we are able to manufacture lithium-ion battery cells at the Gigafactory, we will be able to accelerate the expansion of the electric vehicle market.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years