Tesla, Panasonic to seek gains before more battery investments

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Panasonic and Tesla will keep making new investments in the U.S. automaker’s Gigafactory as needed, but believe they can squeeze more out of present resources than earlier planned, Tesla stated on Thursday.

Separately, Panasonic stated it was observing the demand situation in the electric auto market before making any further investments in boosting the capacity of the Nevada plant.

The two companies were replying to a report by Japan’s Nikkei that stated they had frozen earlier strategies to raise the capacity of the plant, which supplies battery packs for Tesla cars.

“Both Tesla and Panasonic continue to invest substantial funds into Gigafactory,” a Tesla spokesperson stated.

“That said, we believe there is far more output to be gained from improving existing production equipment than was previously estimated.”

Giving no information about its sources, the Nikkei reported that financial issues had led the firms to reevaluate plans to increase the capacity of Gigafactory 1 by another 50 percent next year.

The business daily stated the companies had already together spent $4.5 billion in the facility and had been preparing to expand the plant’s capacity to the equivalent of 54 gigawatt hours (GWh) annually in 2020 from 35 GWh at present.

The 35 GWh capacity can produce batteries for about 500,000 electric vehicles annually, a source familiar with Tesla’s plans stated, meaning that the earlier planned expansion would have made the capacity enough for about 770,000 electric vehicles.

“Panasonic established a battery production capacity of 35 GWh in Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 by the end of March 2019 in line with growing demand,” Japan-based Panasonic stated in an email.

“Watching the demand situation, Panasonic will study extra investments over 35 GWh in collaboration with Tesla.”

Neither have made public their detailed future development plans for the site, although Panasonic stated in October it was in talks to add to its investment and take capacity over the 35 GWh.

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