Tesla and Panasonic are rumored to be behind a new multibillion-dollar battery factory project in Oklahoma as the state pushes to approve $700 million in incentives to move the project forward.
Earlier this year, we reported on Panasonic looking for a site in the U.S. for a new large-scale battery factory to produce new 4680 battery cell for Tesla.
At the time, it was reported that Panasonic was zeroing in on Oklahoma or Kansas for the location of the factory. Now it looks like Oklahoma might be making moves to secure the project or something very similar to the Panasonic project.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt announced that the state is close to securing a “multibillion dollar investment.”
Stitt didn’t name the company involved in the project due to a nondisclosure agreement, but he confirmed that the company has ties to the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
The governor introduced a new bill to have the state legislature approve almost $700 million in rebates and incentives (via The Verge).
“Shortly after Stitt’s pitch to state lawmakers, the Oklahoma House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget advanced HB 4455 to the Senate, a bill that provides $698 million in rebates and incentives to companies that meet certain thresholds linked to job creation and capital expenditure.”
Due to the timing and the previous reports about Panasonic looking at locations in Oklahoma, the Japanese manufacturer is the top suspect to be behind this project.
The level of involvement of Tesla is still unknown. Panasonic did confirm that it was looking to establish a new manufacturing facility in the U.S. to build Tesla’s 4680 battery cells. However, it’s not clear if it will be a more traditional supplier/buyer relationship or if it will be a more involved deal, like what Tesla and Panasonic have at Gigafactory Nevada.
This is an interesting development. It sounds like it would be an extremely large-scale project comparable to Gigafactory Nevada.
When a new Panasonic factory for Tesla batteries comes up, there’s always the question of what’s happening with Gigafactory Nevada, which is still only 33% of the overall size it was supposed to be when first announced.
But there are certain advantages of designing new systems from the ground up with a new facility. It looks like the new factory would be specifically designed for Tesla’s new 4680 battery cell.
If Tesla is involved in the project, it would be interesting if it encourages the Oklahoma state legislature to abandon its attack on Tesla’s right to sell and service its vehicles directly to customers in the state.
Anyway, nothing is confirmed for now, but we expect to have more details soon.
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Author: Fred Lambert