Japan’s Panasonic Building an EV Battery Factory in Kansas for Tesla
July 14, 2022
KANSAS, United States—Panasonic Energy, a major Tesla supplier and developer of its cutting-edge batteries, said on Wednesday it had selected Kansas as the site for a new battery plant that will create up to 4,000 jobs and represent an investment of up to $4 billion. The largest economic development in state history.
This move comes as Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted the EV maker is experiencing major problems ramping up production of Panasonic-developed batteries in-house, which is directly contributing to Tesla hemorrhaging money.
Musk described his Texas and Berlin factories as “gigantic money furnaces” because they’re losing billions of dollars and stated bankruptcy is a very real possibility.
Panasonic’s new battery plant will be built in De Soto, Kansas, and is central to the Japanese company’s effort to ramp up production for Tesla’s batteries. Panasonic already has a factory in Nevada for Tesla as well.
Kansas was chosen over Oklahoma after Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly pushed the state legislature to approve an incentive package of up to $1 billion earlier this year, according to Japan Times.
The Biden administration has given South Korean, Taiwanese, and Japanese tech companies unprecedented incentives to build factories in the United States as it becomes clear that American STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) isn’t at the same level as Asian tech.
Biden personally spoke with Panasonic executives back in May when he visited Japan for the Kansas plant and personally promised unlimited cooperation in return for “first dibs” on advanced Japanese and Korean EV battery tech.
“This is a big move for traditionally conservative Panasonic. (South) Korean battery makers — LG and SK — have led this global battery arms race in the USA,” Simon Moores, chief executive of battery research firm Benchmark, posted on Twitter.
Panasonic plans to expand battery production capacity by three to four times in North America by 2029. The Japanese company has finished developing its new 4680 model battery, the most powerful and largest battery Tesla has ever used.
“With the increased electrification of the automotive market, expanding battery production in the United States is critical to help meet demand,” Panasonic Energy President Kazuo Tadanobu said in a statement.
South Korean battery makers from—Samsung, LG to SK—will develop and produce EV batteries for Ford, GM, and Stellantis-Chrysler and will be investing $5.5 billion in the U.S. this year for new plants.