In five years, Tesla will be building 500,000 vehicles a year said Panasonic President and CEO Joe Taylor. He talked about the company’s partnership with Tesla at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show.
That prediction is based on the assumption that Tesla’s new Gigafactory battery manufacturing plant will be fully operational, enabling the electric carmaker to increasing production to such a degree. Last fall, the Model S hit its 50,000-vehicle milestone, 2.5 years after its initial launch. In order to reach a half million annual sales, Tesla will have to escalate monthly sales of all models from an average under 2,000, to almost 42,000.
In the works are the Model X SUV and planned-for Model III which itself is to be the volume car enabled by the Gigafactory and Panasonic’s declaration only reaffirms Tesla’s own estimates as shown by a Tesla-issued image below.
Regardless of possible future challenges, Taylor said he is impressed by the current contributions from his company.
“I am extremely proud that Panasonic’s expertise in battery making technologies are making this possible,” said Taylor at a press conference.
Providing energy for electrified vehicles is not for Panasonic, which first supplied automotive-grade batteries for the Toyota Prius 20 years ago, although these were not lithium-ion which it has since come online with in a big way.
“Panasonic today is the number one supplier of lithium-ion batteries for automotive use globally,” Taylor said. “We’re continuing to support hybrids. Panasonic’s battery team has been able to extend its leadership in manufacturing lithium ion batteries to power electric vehicles of all kinds.”
Taylor said that Panasonic’s technology is also a factor in the “progress of Tesla’s electric vehicles.” Last year, it supplied Tesla with more than 300 million lithium ion battery cells. The battery company said it will continue to provide Tesla’s batteries cells while the Gigafactory is being completed.
“This represents the single largest investment in automotive electric vehicle batteries in history,” Taylor said of the Gigafactory, which will be funded by both Tesla and Panasonic. “This facility is now under construction and will have the scale and cell production capacity to make electric vehicles much more of an affordable option for drivers looking for more sustainable alternatives.”
Completion of the facility is estimated by 2020, at which time the Gigafactory will be capable of producing 500,000 battery electric vehicles a year, including the batteries.
“At full production, the Panasonic Energy Company of North America will employ approximately 3,000 local manufacturing workers,” said Taylor. “So, together with Tesla, we will employ roughly 6,500 workers to our business activity and will contribute to the economy of this state and to the sustainable or green manufacturing idea for the United States.”