According to CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, Panasonic is not currently planning a new battery cell factory for Tesla in China. Officially, however, it remains open whether Tesla will rely on another manufacturer for the Shanghai plant or imported battery cells from Gigafactory 1.
According to Tsuga, it is up to Tesla to decide whether to export battery cells from Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, which is operated jointly with Panasonic, to China for the vehicles produced in the new plant in Shanghai, or to use cells produced in China by other manufacturers. “We currently have no plans to set up a production facility in China for Tesla’s Chinese business,” the Panasonic CEO said on the sidelines of a strategy briefing.
According to Reuters, Tsuga’s current statements reflect Panasonic’s growing caution towards Tesla. The joint battery business of Panasonic and Tesla does not yet have sustainable profits. Tsuga admitted earlier this year that it underestimated the risks associated with Tesla. In April there was also a report that the two partners had postponed plans to expand Gigafactory 1 beyond its current capacity of 35 GWh.
The statements by Tsuga are certainly not a surprise, as Tesla seems to have already opted for the variant without Panasonic: A corresponding deal between Tesla and LG Chem is now quite concrete.