Tesla Motors’ Gigafactory is probably keeping a few technology and alternative energy companies awake at night. The question is where does this leave Panasonic, its battery supplier?
Tesla Motors sheds light on its Gigafactory
Tesla Motors shed more information on its Gigafactory. It will open around 2017 and we know that Tesla and its partners are investing anywhere from $4 to $5 billion into it. The investment will be spread out through 2020, which probably means, the factory won’t be fully functional until then. As far as Tesla Motors, specifically, the company will invest around $2 billion of its own money into it, according to its official (PDF) statement.
Tesla is acting quickly, as usual, with plans to break ground this year with the plant. So far we know the factory will produce 500,000 battery packs for vehicles by 2020, which is more than the total amount of lithium batteries produced worldwide in 2013. We can assume these packs will go entirely into its electric vehicles (EV), but nothing stops it from building it for other carmakers. Tesla has created battery packs for Mercedes, who also partners with the company and holds some stakes in it. The Mercedes Class A electric car has a Tesla electric motor and battery pack powering it. Tesla also produced the rolling platform for Toyota’s second generation RAV4 EV.
Recycling and becoming greener.
As much as we love Tesla Motors, the company still manufacturers and assembles its EVs in traditional ways. Its heavy use of aluminum is both energy intensive and pollutes a lot. The company mentioned something the news media barely caught, that it will recycle old battery packs. This means that at any point, Tesla could not only recycle back whatever it can into its battery packs or keep the packs as energy storage. This would give it the opportunity to either use that energy for rainy or non-windy days, or simply sell it back to utilities.
Where does this leave Panasonic?
This is the question that begs an answer. Were does this leave its battery supplier Panasonic? Will Tesla alienate its current lithium-ion battery partner, Panasonic, or will Panasonic seek the opportunity to further its partnership with the EV juggernaut?
One thing is for certain, Tesla rarely suffers anyone standing in the way of its success. You can either work with the Tesla Motors, or it will build a way to replace you and your product. What will Panasonic do when Tesla’s Gigafactory comes alive?