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Panasonic to suspend battery production at Tesla joint venture in Nevada due to coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A man is seen next to Panasonic Corp's logo at Panasonic Center in Tokyo, Japan, February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

(This story was refiled to say news was earlier reported by the Reno Gazette Journal)

TOKYO (Reuters) - Panasonic Corp 6752.T said on Saturday it will temporarily suspend production at its battery joint venture with U.S. electric carmaker Tesla Inc TSLA.O in Nevada because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Japanese electronics company, which supplies battery cells for Tesla’s electric vehicles, will scale down operations at so-called Gigafactory 1 early next week before closing it for 14 days, Panasonic said in an emailed statement.

A Panasonic spokeswoman declined to comment on how the suspension would affect Tesla, which produces battery packs using Panasonic cells at the Nevada plant.

Tesla on Thursday said its operations at the Nevada battery plant would continue, while it would suspend production at its San Francisco Bay Area vehicle factory on March 24.

Panasonic said Nevada plant employees affected by the shutdown will receive full pay and benefits for the entire period. During the closure, the facility will undergo intensive cleaning, it said in the statement.

The Reno Gazette Journal, which earlier reported the planned suspension, said Panasonic has about 3,500 employees at the Nevada plant.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Junko Fujita, Editing by Gerry Doyle