In addition to the Kansas plant, the new facility would bolster production capacity further.
EV battery tech and charging infrastructure are two of the most important aspects of progressing EV adoption, responsible for curing both range anxiety and hesitancy surrounding charging times. While charging infrastructure remains an area beyond the control of many OEMs, batteries are within their purview. To that end, Tesla's much-talked-about 4680 battery cells are set to revolutionize the industry with rapid charging, high energy discharge rates, improved range, cheaper production costs, and better battery life. These new batteries are already found in the Model Y but are set to be rolled out into more products as production ramps up.
Panasonic, Tesla's battery partner in the USA, appears to be doubling down on its efforts to develop and supply these 4680 battery cells. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Japanese supplier is investigating setting up a new battery plant in Oklahoma that will cost in the region of $4 billion. This would be in addition to its Kansas plant, which is slated to be the world's largest and will create 4,000 new jobs.
The news allegedly comes from sources close to Panasonic, but when reached for comment, the company was not willing to confirm anything.
"We are examining various growth strategies for our automotive battery business," a Panasonic spokesperson told WSJ, "but there is no further information that we can share at the moment aside from what we have already announced."
Should the Oklahoma development prove true, it would match the claimed investment in Kansas and likely create as many jobs.
It all makes sense when you consider the Oklahoma Department of Commerce has been working hard on 'Project Ocean' as a means of attracting an unnamed multi-billion dollar business to the state. At the time when the legislation was pushed through in April this year, Panasonic was rumored to be that company.
The Oklahoma Department of Commerce had said at the time that it was "optimistic for additional opportunities with them in the future," investing $698 million in pursuit of Project Ocean. In return, it was looking for the unnamed company to invest $3.6 billion and generate more than 4,000 jobs for the state within a five-year timeframe.
That investment could now be paying off, although the department has been unable to confirm anything due to non-disclosure agreements, denying comment when reached.
Oklahoma could be ideal for several reasons. Not only is the state's investment and incentivization highly promising, but so too is its proximity to Tesla's Gigafactory Texas.
Panasonic has supplied Tesla for over a decade, supplying batteries from its operation in Nevada, California. This previously made sense, as Tesla's original base of operations was located in Fremont, California. But as of December 1, 2021, Tesla officially relocated to the state of Texas after a protracted battle with Californian lawmakers - even getting a road named after it in the Lone Star State.
Given that Oklahoma is a neighboring state to Texas, it would be even closer than the new Kansas facility, enabling the 4680 cells to be delivered quicker and easier to the facility from which tesla produces the Model Y and forthcoming Cybertruck.