Just one week after we brought you the news that Reno, NV is most likely the site of Tesla Motors’ first Gigafactory lithium-ion manufacturing and reprocessing plant, the Californian automaker has reached a deal with its current battery supplier which will secure the future of not only Tesla’s Gigafactory but its upcoming 2017 Model ≣electric car.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ:TSLA] struck a deal yesterday with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic which could see the battery manufacturer invest up to $1 billion in the building and commissioning of the proposed 1,000 acre facility. Last October, Tesla signed a deal with Panasonic to secure a supply of at least 1.8 billion cells between 2014 and 2017 for use in its Model S sedan and upcoming Model X crossover SUV, but plans to have its Gigafactory up and running by 2017 in order to produce enough battery cells at a low enough cost to make its planned affordable, mass-produced, 200+ mile 2017 Model ≣electric car a reality.
We first heard Panasonic investing in the Tesla Gigafactory back in February, when a Japanese-language news site published a claim that Panasonic was considering a total investment of $1 billion in what promises to be the world’s largest battery manufacturing and recycling facility. The following month however, despite confirmation from Tesla CEO Elon Musk that Panasonic were among potential investors, Panasonic publicly distanced itself from the notion, stating that while it wanted to help it felt the investment came with some substantial risks.
Now, it appears those fears have been put to one side, with Panasonic set to initially commit an estimated ¥20 million to ¥30 million ($194-291 million) in the Gigafactory. While Tesla is set to finance the costs associated with buying the Gigafactory site and constructing the buildings which will form the Gigafactory, Panasonic will be responsible for financing and installing the high-tech manufacturing equipment needed to build lithium-ion cells, with further investment due as the factory increases production to meet battery cell demand.
While neither Tesla nor Panasonic have officially confirmed the partnership, Tesla is now expected to make an announcement on both the partnership and the initial Gigafactory site on Thursday, when the automaker holds its Q2 Earnings Call on Thursday evening after market close. Hopefully then, we’ll officially find out how much the Panasonic investment is worth, as well as perhaps learn just where Tesla proposes to site its Gigafactory.
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