OSAKA May 23 Panasonic Corp expects to
spend over 28 billion yen ($275 million) on capex into its auto
batteries this year, twice its confirmed budget, with some to be
invested into lithium-ion batteries for Tesla Motor Inc's
Yoshio Ito, senior managing executive officer and president
of the Japanese firm's automotive and industrial division, told
media that another part of the increased amount would be spent
on large batteries supplied to other electric vehicle makers.
However, the increased amount from an initial 14 billion yen
would not account for investment into Tesla's planned
lithium-ion battery 'gigafactory' project, in which Panasonic
expects to be the sole producer of cells, Ito said, speaking at
a roundtable at the division's headquarters in Osaka.
Tesla is planning to build a factory in the United States
producing lithium-ion batteries from 2017 that it estimates will
cost $4 billion to $5 billion. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk
has said that he expected Panasonic, the company's prime
supplier of lithium-ion cells, to be a partner in the project.
Ito said that Panasonic had not yet decided how much and
when to invest in the project but that any expenditure from
Panasonic towards the project this year would be small.
A source with knowledge of the matter said another portion
of the increased capex budget would go towards building a new
zinc battery production facility in India.
($1 = 101.6650 Japanese Yen)
(Reporting by Reiji Murai; Writing by Sophie Knight; Editing by