Panasonic exploring Tesla plans for battery factory before investing- executive

TOKYO Wed May 21, 2014 2:47am EDT

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TOKYO May 21 (Reuters) - Japan's Panasonic Corp said on Wednesday it's examining U.S. electric automaker Tesla Motors Inc's plans for a lithium battery factory before the electronics firm decides how much to invest in it.

Yoshio Ito, senior managing executive officer at Panasonic, said that division of responsibilities and share of ownership in the factory would be key factors in its decision. Panasonic had already sent a letter of intent to Tesla, he added.

Tesla is planning to begin building a "gigafactory" in the United States producing lithium batteries from 2017, with the aim of reaching full capacity by 2020. Panasonic, the prime supplier of lithium batteries to the U.S. firm, signed a contract last October to increase its supply to nearly 2 billion battery cells in the four years to 2017.

(Reporting by Reiji Murai; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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