Panasonic prepares to launch US battery factory construction
The Japanese company Panasonic has scheduled the start of construction of its new battery cell factory in the US state of Kansas for November 2022. It will be Panasonic’s second battery factory for electric vehicles in the USA after the Gigafactory 1 in Nevada, which is operated jointly with Tesla.
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It was already known that Panasonic would build a battery factory in Kansas: In July, the company and the state’s economic development agency announced that the battery manufacturer had identified a site in De Soto for the construction of the factory and that the state of Kansas had approved a state incentive application submitted by Panasonic. However, at the time, there was only talk of a “US-based EV Battery Facility” – Panasonic did not give any further details on production at the time.
The details are now available in the current announcement: The new factory in Kansas will initially produce cells of the 2170 format. Series production is planned to start at the end of March 2025, with an initial annual production capacity of 30 GWh. This will expand Panasonic’s 2170 production capacity in the USA, as this round cell format is also produced in Gigafactory 1. However, it is not known whether the 2170 cells from Kansas are also intended for Tesla and have the same cell chemistry inside. 2170 round cells have also become widespread in other eMobility applications.
Panasonic did not confirm this in the press release, but other rumours about Tesla and the Kansas plant have been circulating for some time: Panasonic could also produce the new 4680 cells for Tesla there in the future. Pilot production is currently underway in Japan; series production is planned there from March 2023 and, according to earlier announcements by the company, is to be relocated to North America – for which the new plant would naturally lend itself.
However, the as yet unnamed factory in De Soto (immediately west of Kansas City) and Gigafactroy 1 in Nevada could soon receive further additions. At the end of August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Panasonic could build a battery cell plant of the same size in Oklahoma in parallel to the Kansas project. It is possible that the 4680 production will be located there and Kansas will remain with the smaller 2170 round cells. However, like the entire alleged project in Oklahoma, this has not yet been confirmed.
“As the global shift to EVs accelerates, we are looking into ways to strengthen our battery production capacity in North America and meet the growing demand from our automotive partners,” says Kazuo Tadanobu, president and CEO of Panasonic Energy, about the recent announcement around the Kansas factory.
Update 03 November 2022
Only a few days after Panasonic had scheduled the start of construction of its US battery factory for November, the Japanese manufacturer has broken ground. Production of the 2170 round cells is scheduled to start in March 2025, with an initial capacity of 30 GWh.
In the announcement of the ground-breaking ceremony, Panasonic gives some further details about the location: The plant is being built on the site of the Astra Enterprise Park, which is to become “an important economic factor for the region” with the Panasonic settlement. This also applies to the construction: the contracts for site preparation have been awarded to two construction companies from the Kansas City region, and other regional companies will be brought on board later.
“This groundbreaking in Kansas is an important step towards expanding our production capacity in North America to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium-ion batteries,” says Kazuo Tadanobu, President and CEO of Panasonic Energy.