Panasonic considers growing EV battery production in US to supply Tesla Cybertruck

Chiang, Jen-Chieh, Taipei; Peng Chen, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Panasonic

While demand for battery EVs has slowed, sources said that Tesla supplier Panasonic plans to increase battery investment in Kansas, the US.

The Japanese battery maker has been constructing its second US factory in De Soto, Kansas. The company has also mulled over the third plant. It jointly built its first US battery production facility in Nevada with Tesla.

Sources told Nikkei Asia that Panasonic is considering increasing battery production in Kansas besides operating the De Soto plant. The company aims to invest US$4 billion in De Soto and will likely inject the same amount of money into the state for the third factory. The new facility is also expected to produce the 46800 cylindrical battery for Tesla.

Panasonic still needs to evaluate the additional investment in Kansas and consider multiple factors. The firm has yet to finalize the project.

The company has been reviewing the efficiency of the 46800 battery production at its plant in Wakayama, Japan. Panasonic will likely decide whether or not to increase investment in Kansas by the end of this year.

According to South Korea-based ET News, LG Energy Solution (LGES) said last month that it will start the volume production of the 46800 battery as early as August. Reportedly, the battery will power the Tesla Cybertruck, launched in 2023.

LGES moves faster than Panasonic in mass-producing the 46800 battery and supplying it to Tesla. However, the Japanese manufacturer still considers itself a leader in techniques and safety.

Although Tesla also produces the 46800 battery, it has encountered difficulties entering volume production and still needs suppliers' support.

As BEV sales growth has decelerated, US consumers have shown interest in Hybrid EVs (HEV). In the fourth quarter of 2023, Toyota achieved 180,000 units in HEV sales, while Tesla sold 170,000 BEVs in the same period.

Tesla plans to grow its BEV portfolio to include the Cybertruck, the Semi Truck, and the sports car Roadster. Therefore, the company still sees battery shortages.

Panasonic aims to reach 200GWh in battery production capacity by March 2031, four times what it had at the beginning of 2024. The expansion will primarily take place in the US.

In January, Allan Swan, president of Panasonic Energy North America, said the company did not experience soft demand for batteries. It will need to build more plants to supply Tesla.