Panasonic is shopping for a plant location for its own U.S. mammoth battery factory, according to a Friday report from Japan’s national public broadcasting network NHK.
The battery supplier is shopping for land for the “mega factory” either in Oklahoma or Kansas, according to the report, with a planned investment of several billion dollars just to build it.
The plant could be conceived for the purpose of “mass producing new high-capacity lithium-ion batteries that significantly increase the range of EVs,” NHK suggested.
If in either of those states, the factory would be close enough to serve as a primary supplier for Tesla’s new plant in Austin, Texas, where most of the products are expected to use the larger 4680-format cylindrical cells that Tesla championed at its 2020 Battery Day. Tulsa, Oklahoma, had been a finalist for the Tesla facility.
Cylindrical cells - Panasonic hinting at 4680 progress
Panasonic just earlier this week made official its pending production of the 4680 format. In a release on the plans, with production to start at a factory in western Japan in 2023 or early 2024, the company hinted that more development was yet to be done before ramp-up.
That hasn’t stopped Tesla from ramping up its own production of the format at a pilot production facility in California. Tesla revealed that it hit a cumulative million of those cells made—enough for more than 1,000 Model Ys.
Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada [CREDIT - YouTube user California Phantom]
Tesla and Panasonic have been closely interwoven for more than a decade. It was an early investor in Tesla, exclusively sourced cells for the Model S and Model Y, and then in 2014 announced they’d be collaborating on the Nevada Gigafactory that supplies cells for the U.S.-built Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla re-upped its long-term relationship with Panasonic in 2020, but Panasonic sold its Tesla stake in 2021.