Panasonic to Invest ‘Billions of Yen’ in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory

(San Jose Mercury News/MCT) —

Panasonic will invest “tens of billions of yen” — hundreds of millions of dollars — in Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory, according to a statement made by Panasonic’s CEO at a trade show in Japan.

The gigafactory will produce lithium-ion batteries for Tesla’s electric cars and stationary storage devices.

“Our initial investment amount in the factory will be tens of billions of yen,” said CEO Kazuhrio Tsuga in comments at CEATEC, the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies trade show, according to wire reports. “We will expand the size as we go by pouring in further installments of similar amounts.”

Each Model S sedan contains more than 7,000 lithium-ion battery cells, which Tesla gets from Panasonic. While the battery cells are similar to those used in laptops and game consoles, Tesla’s are specifically designed for electric vehicles and were jointly developed by Tesla and Panasonic. Earlier this month, Panasonic announced that it has established Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America, a new manufacturing company of lithium-ion batteries, in Sparks, Nevada, where Tesla’s gigafactory will be located.

The gigafactory is expected to employ about 6,500 people. Tesla hopes to drive down battery costs so that it can come out with the Model 3, an electric vehicle that will cost about $35,000.

On Thursday, Tesla is hosting a Model S-related product announcement in Los Angeles. Many analysts think the announcement is a Model S with all-wheel drive, as well as some forays into autonomous-driving features.

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