Panasonic, Tesla Eye Joint Plant In U.S.

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Panasonic Corp. is considering setting up a new plant jointly with Tesla Motors Inc. in the United States to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The Japanese electronics maker is mulling asking Japanese materials makers to set up bases at the new plant to create integrated production of batteries, the sources said. Investment in the plant is expected to be around 100 billion yen, with the prospect of starting operation in 2017, they said.

In addition to the U.S. EV manufacturer, Panasonic is also considering supplying batteries to Toyota Motor Corp., which has a business alliance with Tesla, the sources said.

The move comes as Panasonic aims to chalk up sales of 2 trillion yen in auto-related operations in fiscal 2018.

The company plans to actively invest in batteries for EVs, foreseeing demand will grow with overseas automakers such as BMW AG and Volkswagen AG of Germany having started to make EVs in addition to Japanese automakers Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

For Tesla, Panasonic plans to supply about 2 billion lithium-ion battery cells from 2014 to 2017. They will be installed in Tesla's Model S sedans and Model X crossover utility vehicle.

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