Tesla CEO Elon Musk is expected to announce plans for a new “gigafactory” later this week, and reports out of Japan indicate the project will involve a $1 billion joint venture with electronic giant Panasonic to set up a lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in the United States.
The two partners are expected to seek the involvement – and investment – of additional partners, according to Japan’s Nikkei. Among the key goals of the program will be a sharp reduction in the cost of the advanced batteries needed to power vehicles like the Tesla Model S.
The reports have generated some skepticism, and neither Panasonic nor Tesla are directly discussing the reports – or the megafactory announcement the California-based automaker is expected to make on Thursday. Contacted by the AFP news service, a Panasonic official would only say the company is “studying every possible way to strengthen ties with Tesla.”