Panasonic not sure about Tesla Gigafactory commitment; Texas dealers wary, too

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Just about the entire US southwest is ready to jump into the financial bed with Tesla Motors as the electric-vehicle maker looks for a place to put its massive "gigafactory." But lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic? Not so much, says Bloomberg News.

Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga spoke to a group of reporters in Tokyo and said he strategically understood the need for Tesla to go large-scale with its factory production, especially as it prepares to debut an SUV as well as a model that will be priced at about half of what a Model S costs. But, he added cautiously, there will be significant risk involved in the investment and his company hasn't committed to its involvement just yet.

Texas dealers are already sounding the alarm against changing franchise laws to woo the battery plant.

Panasonic or not, Tesla is taking the "go big or go home" approach to a factory that it says will cost about $5 billion ($2 billion already committed from Tesla itself) and may support 6,500 jobs. That latter point has states such as Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas tripping over themselves to figure out the financial incentives necessary to be the further production base for California-based Tesla. Texas auto dealers are already sounding the alarm against changing the state's franchise laws to woo the automaker's battery plant. An open letter sent by the Texas Automobile Dealers Association says it does not believe, "that economic development efforts to bring any business to Texas should in any way be connected to changing established laws in Texas for the singular benefit of any one company. ... We believe this sets a bad precedent for future economic development efforts by linking them to special interest changes in law."

Last fall, Tesla expanded its battery-production agreement with Panasonic, saying at the time that Panasonic would provide almost 2 million automotive-grade battery cells for the Model S and Model X during the next four years.

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