ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Panasonic Corp., already the major supplier of the lithium-ion batteries that power Tesla Motors’ vehicles, said Friday that it anticipates becoming the lone manufacturer when the electric car maker begins production at its planned battery factory in 2017.
But that doesn’t mean it will contribute all or most of the $3 billion Tesla is seeking to supplement its own $2 billion investment in the $5 billion facility, according to a report by Reuters.
Yoshio Ito, president of the Japanese firm’s automotive and industrial division, told reporters at a briefing in Osaka that the company has not made a final determination on how much it would invest, preferring to take a “step-by-step” approach.
Earlier this month, Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk said Panasonic had signed a letter of intent to partner with the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company on its so-called “gigafactory,” which is expected to employ up to 6,500 workers.
Musk also said Tesla plans to break ground on the first of two possible sites next month.
New Mexico is one of five states being considered for the battery factory, along with Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas.