The Tesla Gigafactory’s plan is to reduce lithium-ion battery costs for Tesla Motors electric vehicles and SolarCity backup power supplies, and it’s a huge plan.
Tesla Motors expects the new complex to cost about $5 billion, but it isn’t going to foot the bill alone. Of course, the bulk of the money will mostly likely come from Tesla Motors and, probably, SolarCity, but there will be other partners involved in getting the Tesla Gigafactory built. Currently, Tesla Motors is sourcing its lithium-ion battery cells from Panasonic, so I’m not surprised that Panasonic is looking to get involved in the project.
After all, if the Tesla Gigafactory is built, Panasonic will lose a huge portion of its sales of the 18650 lithium-ion commodity cell. According to Bloomberg, Panasonic had been hesitant to join the project, but recent conversations with Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk have, apparently, calmed those hesitations. In a shareholder conference call, at which Tesla Motors first-quarter earnings were being discussed, CEO Elon Musk disclosed Panasonic’s growing interest in the Tesla Gigafactory. Confirming these suspicions, Panasonic signed a letter of intent to join the project.
Elon Musk says that, within the next month, the Tesla Gigafactory could break ground in perhaps two possible build locations, so that, when final approval comes through, they’ll have a head start on the site. For now, various states are trying to attract the $5 billion project, based on the promise of nearly 7,000 new jobs, as well as many other jobs that will be created to support them. Final approval on one of the sites, Elon Musk is confident, will come sometime later this year.
Image © Panasonic