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Trevor Collett | Aug, 01 2014 | 1 Comment

Electric carmaker Tesla and technology giant Panasonic have officially announced an agreement for a shared large-scale battery factory to be built in the US.

Tesla announced its intentions to build a ‘Gigafactory’ a while back, but a co-investent with Panasonic was not believed to form part of the carmaker’s initial plans.

Just days after announcing the pair would share a supply of battery cells and future technical development, details of the combined manufacturing facility are now out in the open.

The agreement states that Tesla will prepare, provide and manage the land, buildings and utilities, while Panasonic takes care of manufacture and supply along with the associated costs.

In the short term at least, Tesla will continue to buy battery cells from Panasonic’s factory in Japan to meet its projected demand.

Tesla will manage the factory, with the long-term goal of satisfying current and future demand for batteries while ‘continuously’ reducing their cost, in a facility expected to employ 6500 people by 2020.

“The Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realised,” Tesla Chief Technical Officer JB Straubel said.

“Not only does the Gigafactory enable capacity needed for the Model 3 but it sets the path for a dramatic reduction in the cost of energy storage across a broad range of applications."

Panasonic’s Executive Vice President Yoshihiko Yamada said the tech giant believes the Gigafactory will accelerate development of electric vehicles for Tesla and other carmakers looking to expand their EV programs.

Early projections on pricing for the Model 3 (or Model III) see it rival the BMW 3 Series in some markets, while pricing for the Model S in Australia has already been revealed to start at $91,400 plus on-roads.

Exactly what impact the Gigafactory will have on pricing for both models – along with Tesla’s upcoming Model X SUV – remains to be seen.

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