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Tesla, Panasonic to bring battery plant online sooner

OSAKA -- A battery plant that Tesla Motors is building with Panasonic in the U.S. state of Nevada will begin operations in 2016, earlier than initially planned, a Tesla official said here Friday.

     The American electric-car manufacturer apparently wants to secure a supply of batteries fast on expectations of strong demand for a lower-priced vehicle due out as early as 2017.

     The plant's launch will be accelerated to bring down production costs through economies of scale, said Kurt Kelty, who oversees battery technologies at Tesla.

     The new facility will make high-output lithium-ion batteries for the Tesla Model 3, which will be priced half as high as other models. Plans call for getting domestic and foreign parts and materials suppliers to build production facilities on the grounds. Tesla has made progress in selecting suppliers, according to Kelty.

     Panasonic has a stake in Tesla and supplies the U.S. company with battery cells for electric vehicles. The Nevada plant is expected to cost up to roughly 500 billion yen ($4.16 billion), with Panasonic shouldering 150 billion yen to 200 billion yen.


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