After reports that Tesla's exploring opening up additional partnerships, primary battery partner Panasonic says that they're ready to step up. After hearing that Tesla's been talking to Samsung, LG, and SK Innovation about supplying batteries, Panasonic said that they're prepared to accelerate their contributions. Panasonic is currently Tesla's exclusive battery supplier for the Model S and Model X and is investing $1.6 billion in the $5 billion Gigafactory under construction in the Nevada desert.
According to Fortune:
"We will do our best to move up the schedule if requested," Yoshio Ito, head of Panasonic's automotive and industrial systems division, told reporters at a briefing on Friday.
The exploration of new battery partners came after Tesla announced the acceleration of their production plans. While the Tesla Model 3 is expected in late 2017, the company's planning to build up to 200,000 of the car next year — and 500,000 total vehicles in 2018. Battery supply is the biggest restriction on EV production today; Tesla's plans to build half a million cars a year would today require a monopoly on all lithium-ion battery cell production.