Tesla's partner Panasonic announces expanded electric vehicle battery production in Japan

As Tesla ramps up its production for the Model 3, one of its partners is also planning to increase production of electric vehicle batteries halfway around the world. According to the Japan Times, "Panasonic Corp. said Friday it will start manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for electric cars in fiscal 2019 at its plant in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, expanding domestic production to meet growing demand for green vehicles across the globe." 


Above: Tesla vehicles are powered by Panasonic batteries (Image: Industry Week)

It's reported that, "Panasonic has been expanding its lithium-ion battery production both at home and abroad. The Japanese electronics maker supplies lithium-ion batteries to U.S. electric-car maker and energy company Tesla Inc., and the two companies also jointly run a plant in Nevada named Gigafactory that mass-produces the batteries."


Above: Panasonic, including its output via Tesla's Gigafactory, remains the industry leader for  electric vehicle battery production worldwide (Source: The Economist)

It turns out that Panasonic's latest plant will be a factory conversion from LCD TV panel production to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. "The Osaka-based electronics maker is likely to spend tens of billions of yen on setting up production lines there... [and] within Japan, Panasonic already has five other lithium-ion battery production plants." Panasonic's latest plans are aligned with recent efforts to pivot its business towards the auto sector.


Above: A peek inside Panasonic's lithium-ion battery (Youtube: PanasonicEUBatteries)

Nasdaq (via Reuters) notes that, "Panasonic, the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla Inc's mass-market Model 3, is reinventing itself as a provider of advanced auto parts to escape the price competition of smartphones and other lower-margin consumer products." And Panasonic's new direction is proving to be increasingly promising: "Panasonic sees batteries as a key driver for its plan to nearly double its automotive business revenue to 2.5 trillion yen ($22 billion) in the year through March 2022." 


Above: Tesla Model X on display at Panasonic's booth at CES (Image: Business Wire)

And that's not all — the company is also opening a new battery plant in Dalian, China. In addition to Tesla, it's likely Pansonic's new plants will service multiple automakers, especially in light of changes occurring in the world biggest auto market, China. Panasonic said in a statement: "The global market for eco-conscious vehicles has been growing... [leading to] increasing expectations from auto manufacturers on Panasonic, the leading manufacturer of automotive lithium-ion batteries."