Tesla’s manufacturing partner Panasonic will be further expanding its lithium-ion automotive battery production in Japan — by beginning production at a facility in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture — according to recent reports.
The reason for the further production expansion shouldn’t be surprising: the company simply recognizes growing market demand for automotive lithium-ion batteries.
It is interesting, though, that the company is continuing to build up its own battery manufacturing capacity so rapidly while at the same time helping Tesla to bring its Gigafactory in Nevada to full production capacity. Given the speed at which the electric vehicle market is expected to grow over the next decade, there’s of course no real reason not to — Tesla isn’t even manufacturing enough batteries to meet its own demand.
The press release provides more: “Panasonic has been building up its production capacity of automotive batteries in Japan, the United States, and China. To further boost the capacity, the company has decided to produce prismatic automotive lithium-ion batteries at the Himeji factory, which currently produces LCD panels. The plan is to install a vertically integrated production line from the component process to the assembly of battery cells at the factory, aiming to start production in the fiscal year that ends in March 2020. The company will continue to make LCD panels at the factory.”
Presumably, there have been some backroom conversations with auto manufacturers in Japan that contributed to Panasonic’s decision. It would be interesting to know which companies there are pushing for an increase in local battery production supply.