While a project to build a $4-billion Panasonic Energy Co. electric vehicle battery assembly plant is advancing in De Soto, Kan., the company says it will need even more plants to reach its targeted EV battery production capacity.

The 2.7-million-sq-ft Kansas plant is designed and engineered by SSOE Group and architect Mackenzie Inc., and is currently under construction by a team led by a joint venture of Turner Construction Co. and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co. The plant would add 30 GWh of annual production capacity on top of Panasonic’s 38-GWh Nevada EV battery plant.

Panasonic Energy’s chief technology officer, Shoichiro Watanabe, recently said in an interview with Reuters that the company will need about four more plants in order to meet its goal of having a 200-GWh annual capacity by 2031. He did not specify where or when those additional plants would be built. Panasonic Energy supplies batteries for Tesla and recently announced it is in discussions with Mazda, in addition to working with some startup electric automakers. Watanabe also shared with Reuters that the company would be open to joint ventures with automakers for EV battery production, which is becoming more common.

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In March, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced a minerals trade agreement with Japan that more easily allows for electric vehicles made by Japanese automakers in the U.S. to qualify for a $7,500 tax credit via the Inflation Reduction Act. The deal helps build “resilient and secure supply chains,” Tai said in a statement.

The company’s plans for production expansion come amid what the U.S. Treasury Dept. calls “a striking surge” in manufacturing construction spending that government analysts say has been partly driven by legislation like the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act. Spending on construction for technology manufacturing in particular has nearly quadrupled since the start of 2022, even after accounting for materials and labor cost increases by deflating spending using the Producer Price Index, according to a June Treasury report. Overall, real manufacturing construction spending has doubled since the end of 2021.



The average increase in capital spending anticipated over the next 12 months.

- National Association of Manufacturers Second Quarter 2023 Outlook Survey

Battery Recycling Facility Expansion

Cross-chemistry battery management and materials processor Cirba Solutions selected Jacobs to manage design and support construction of a $200-million expansion to its lithium-ion processing site in Lancaster, Ohio. According to Cirba, the expanded plant would be one of the largest battery recycling facilities in North America, capable of producing enough material to power more than 200,000 electric vehicles annually. Cirba says it plans to open seven processing facilities in North America by 2026.



Increase in manufacturing construction starts in the 12 months ending May 2023.

- Dodge Data & Analytics

Silicon Battery Materials Plant

Clayco is engineering and building a battery active materials plant designed by Clayco subsidiary Lamar Johnson Collaborative at a 1-million-sq-ft campus in Moses Lake, Wash., for silicon battery technology manufacturer Group14 Technologies. The plant is planned to initially feature two manufacturing modules that can each produce 2,000 tons per year of Group14’s silicon-based battery material for electric vehicles, SCC55, starting next year. Group14 says the plant will be the largest facility of its kind in the world. The manufacturer plans to eventually open at least six modules at the facility.