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Panasonic Energy invests around $4 billion in De Soto, Kansas

By Ryan Cardenas
-    Feb 20, 2024
Credit : GMI Post

Panasonic Energy, a Japanese maker of batteries for electric vehicles and a major supplier to Tesla, is converting a former U.S. Army ammunition plant in the city of De Soto, Kansas into a $4 billion lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility.

In an interview with Nikkei Asia, De Soto Mayor Rick Walker expressed his excitement about the vast 5.5 million square feet factory going up on his city's outskirts.

De Soto Mayor Rick Walker (left) and Kansas City Area Development Council President and CEO Tim Cowden (right)

“The City of De Soto is thrilled to work with Panasonic and welcome them to our amazing community. De Soto has a rich history of supporting critical manufacturing facilities and we have been planning for this growth and the return of advanced manufacturing jobs to this area for years. We're especially excited for the opportunity to invest in the renewable energy industry and provide strong jobs for generations to come,” De Soto said.

The new Panasonic plant, which plans to begin mass production by March 2025, is expected to create 4,000 direct jobs in the city of 6,200 people.

“We want to bring back that job center that we had, that we've always had, that will help to drive and make our community thrive,” the mayor said.

The De Soto Plant will be Panasonic's second battery factory in the United States, where it is Tesla’s biggest supplier. The plant will produce 30 gigawatt-hours worth of EV batteries per year, roughly equivalent to 550,000 units of Tesla's popular Model 3, although Panasonic is planning to supply other customers from the plant as well.

In a press release to local media, Kris Takamoto, Executive Vice President of Panasonic Energy, Head of EV Battery Business said, “Expanding production capacity in Kansas will enable us to continue delivering the highest quality batteries for our automotive partners as demand grows.”

“We are already producing more than five million battery cells a day in North America, and the new facility in Kansas will further grow our capacity, efficiency and economies of scale which are critical to a net-zero emissions future,” Takamoto said.

Meanwhile, Kansas City Area Development Council President and CEO Tim Cowden also expressed his support for the project: “We are incredibly proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Panasonic as they revolutionize the global transportation industry from the center of the most dynamic economy in the world.”

“The Kansas City region, just as it has over the past century, is cementing its rightful place as a leader where transit innovation is occurring,” he said.

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