Japan’s carmakers are showing interest in Panasonic Holdings’s cylindrical batteries as the manufacturer proceeds with plans to roughly quadruple annual production capacity, CEO Yuki Kusumi has said.
"There are many options in terms of what we can work out with them,” Kusumi said in a group interview Wednesday.
The Osaka-based company, which supplies batteries to Tesla, said last week that it aims to boost production to 200 gigawatt-hours by March 2031, a sign that it anticipates greater demand for electric vehicles. While Panasonic has been a key supplier to Tesla from its early days, the Japanese manufacturer has been slower to build scale compared with rivals LG Energy Solution of South Korea and China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology.
Kusumi also said that, as a general matter, carmakers will have to decide what to do with their factories as they transition to EVs from gasoline-based engines.
"Depending on the situation, there may be cases where we can handle operations,” Kusumi said, without elaborating on any specific automakers or locations.
Panasonic broke ground on a new $4 billion battery factory in De Soto, Kansas, in November as it seeks to ramp up output. Panasonic will step up large-scale investments to meet rapidly growing demand, Kusumi said, adding that the company sees the North American EV market growing at an average rate of 35% a year from 2021 to 2030.
The electronics group had previously said it planned to spend some ¥600 billion ($4.4 billion) over the three years to March 2025 on strategic investments. The bulk of that will go to ramping up the Kansas plant, Kusumi said.