As Tesla continues to diversify its suppliers, its main U.S. source, Panasonic, is building a $4 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Kansas as a route to competing in the increasingly competitive field of electric-vehicle batteries. electric vehicles and facilitate the pioneer’s dependence on electric vehicles.
The state of Kansas has approved Panasonic Energy, an EV battery unit of the Panasonic Group, to establish the plant, subject to approval by the Japanese company’s board of directors, according to a company statement. The Panasonic Energy plant could create up to 4,000 jobs at its proposed location in De Soto, a suburb in the Kansas City metro area, the statement reads.
The plant will be Panasonic’s second in the US, where it already operates a battery factory with billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla near Reno, Nevada. The US assembly lines run today by Panasonic have already supplied more than 6 billion EV battery cells, most of them likely to Tesla.
But Tesla shows a trend of “progressive diversification” of battery sources to remain “flexible” as it develops different types of vehicles, industry news website InsideEVs said in May.
“Panasonic has maintained its share of the lithium-ion battery market almost exclusively through its relationship with Tesla,” says Christopher Robinson, research director at Lux Research. “As Tesla begins to source cells from suppliers other than Panasonic, it becomes crucial for Panasonic to find other battery consumers if it wants to maintain its market share.”
Osaka-based Panasonic Energy has indicated it would see this factory as another gateway to the world’s third-largest single-country plug-in market after China and Germany.
“With the increasing electrification of the automotive market, expanding battery production in the US is critical to help meet demand,” Panasonic Energy President and CEO Kazuo Tadanobu said in a statement. “Our goal is to continue driving the growth of the lithium-ion battery industry and accelerating towards a net-zero-emissions future.”
Panasonic’s Kansas plant is likely to find many customers, given today’s demand for electric vehicles, says Robinson.
“U.S. automakers are finding higher-than-expected demand for electric vehicles, leaving battery supply as a constraint to faster growth,” he says. “While no specific customers have been announced, Panasonic should have no problem finding demand for its Kansas-produced batteries.”
Global electric vehicle revenue of $105 billion last year will see compound annual growth of 19% through 2028 due to “environmental, social and health objectives”, predicts market analysis firm Vantage Market Research.
Panasonic Energy also supplies batteries for medical and consumer products. Its 104-year-old parent, Panasonic Corp., produces a wide range of common consumer electronics products. Corporate sales revenues reach $66 billion.