Panasonic: can move up investment for Tesla battery plant if asked

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2016 3:27 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp is prepared to move up its investment plans for Tesla Motors Inc's battery plant if needed to meet strong demand for the electric car maker's upcoming Model 3 sedan, an executive at the Japanese electronics group said.

"We will do our best to move up the schedule if requested," Yoshio Ito, head of Panasonic's automotive and industrial systems (AIS) division, told reporters at a briefing on Friday.

Panasonic plans to invest $1.6 billion of Tesla's $5-billion "Gigafactory" in phases over the next few years. Production of the advanced car batteries is scheduled to start later this year.

A faster ramp-up of the battery plant would be crucial as Tesla has said it would respond to brisk demand for the Model 3 by tooling up its factories to build 500,000 vehicles a year in 2018, two years earlier than planned.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)