According to sources familiar with the Japanese company’s strategy, in a move that should come as a surprise to no one, Panasonic has plans to invest an estimated 100 billion yen ($979 million) in Tesla’s future battery facility.
The ambitious project, dubbed by Tesla’s Elon Musk as a “gigafactory”, would become the first US based integrated plant that produces Lithium-Ion battery cells specifically for electric cars and should become operational from 2017.
“We have a cooperative relationship with Tesla and are looking at various ways of strengthening that relationship in the future,” Panasonic said.
The Japanese, which is the primary supplier at the moment for Tesla would be an obvious choice as an investment partner for Tesla – having the experience and the already good business relation.
“Panasonic is looking at various types of cooperation, including taking on some of the investment,” one of the sources said. “But Tesla is a venture business, so there’s a need to be cautious in looking at the risks involved.”
The first report on the plans came from Japanese Nikkei business daily, which also advanced the 100 billion yen figure, adding that Panasonic also asked additional Japanese material makers to join the project. The daily also hinted that in addition to supplying the necessary batter packs to Tesla, the new plant could also become a source for other automakers.