Panasonic to start building Kansas battery plant next month

TOKYO – Japan’s Panasonic Holdings Corp said on Monday it will start building its new battery plant in Kansas in November and aims to begin mass production by March 2025, targeting North America’s fast-growing EV market.

The conglomerate’s energy unit said in July it had picked Kansas as the site for a new plant to supply batteries primarily to Tesla Inc, joining other battery producers planning massive U.S. investments to qualify for new EV tax credit rules and to tap that market’s potentially massive demand.

Panasonic said in a statement it expects initial production capacity of 30 gigawatt hours per year at the new plant, equivalent to roughly 60 percent of the company’s current annual EV battery production capacity in Japan and the United States.

Kansas state officials said in July the factory would create up to 4,000 jobs with investment of up to $4 billion, pending final approval by Panasonic’s board, which came through on Monday.

Hirokazu Umeda, Panasonic Holdings Group chief financial officer, declined to give a specific figure for the investment at an earnings briefing on Monday, but said as a rough estimate it would be “on a scale of more than $4 billion” .

The company said the factory would produce its 2170 model lithium-ion battery cells, which are already supplied to Tesla, but might eventually make the more advanced 4680 format battery under development that is about five times larger and will offer major improvements in cost and vehicle range.

“We decided to start with the 2170 model, which can be launched with a sense of certainty and speed because of the need for batteries as soon as possible,” Umeda said.

Panasonic has said it would begin mass production of the 4680 model at its plant in Wakayama, in western Japan, by the end of March, 2024, with expansion later to production in North America.

Umeda said the ramp up to mass production was proceeding as planned.

Panasonic on Monday also lowered its full-year operating profit forecast to 320 billion yen ($2.16 billion) from 360 billion yen for the year ending March 31. That compares with a 349.9 billion yen average forecast by 19 analysts.

Panasonic posted an 11 percent drop in second-quarter operating profit, but performed better than analysts’ estimates.

It reported 86.1 billion yen in operating profit for the three months to end September, versus an average 81.6 billion yen profit estimated by nine analysts, according to Refinitiv data. A year earlier, the company earned 96.8 billion yen.

Although sales rose at its energy business, operating profit fell due to rising prices for raw materials and logistics, as well as increased development expenses and fixed costs as it increased production.

Its rivals, China’s CATL and South Korea’s Energy Solution, posted strong battery profit growth after they passed some of their cost increases to clients.

UAW seeks to represent GM battery joint venture workers

The United Auto Workers on Monday said it is seeking an election to represent workers at a General Motors/LG Energy battery cell joint venture in Ohio after the companies refused to recognize the union.

The UAW said it had filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of approximately 900 workers at Ultium Cells after a majority of workers had signed cards authorizing the union to represent them.

“By refusing to recognize their majority will, Ultium – which is a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solution – has decided to ignore democracy and delay the recognition process,” UAW President Ray Curry said in a statement.

Firings, Privatization, And A Kitchen Sink: Inside Elon Musk’s First Days At Twitter

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has officially bought Twitter. The billionaire entrepreneur originally announced his intentions to buy Twitter back in April, however a turbulent six months followed in which he threatened to pull out of the deal on numerous occasions. However, Musk finally completed his $44 billion acquisition of the company earlier this week.

On Wednesday as the deal neared, Musk posted a video of himself carrying a kitchen sink into Twitter’s San Fransisco HQ. He also Tweeted that the “bird is freed” and “comedy is now legal on Twitter”.


Musk has already made some serious changes at Twitter, firing CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, and policy chief Vijaya Gadde. The latter was reportedly responsible for banning former US President Donald Trump from the platform. Back in May, Musk insisted he would reverse Trump’s Twitter ban. However, Trump previously stated he would not be returning to Twitter and would instead remain on his own app Truth Social.

Furthermore, Musk revealed a “content moderation council” will be formed and no major account reinstatements or content decisions will take place before then. In a deleted Tweet, the Tesla CEO also spoke about plans to offer a verification badge to members of Twitter Blue, the app’s premium subscription model.

Per a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter will officially be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange on November 8. Musk’s subsidiary company, X Holdings I, Inc., will then own 100% of Twitter stock.

Musk’s Twitter purchase is seemingly the first stage of his plan to build a “super app” that covers everything from ride-hailing to shopping and bank transfers. The “super app” has drawn comparisons from some to China’s WeChat which also has a combination of social networking and e-commerce features. 

‘Great reassessment’ will require car dealers to rethink recruiting strategies

CHICAGO — It’s not the “great resignation.”

The challenges in the U.S. labor market today can be better understood as the “great reassessment,” said Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology, a recruitment technology company that works with auto dealerships.

There is a broad rethinking happening about “what it means to have an employment relationship,” Robinson said Wednesday during Hireology’s Elevate conference here.

The notion of work-life balance is evolving into a consideration of how work can fit in and around life. And labor supply challenges were present even before the pandemic brought sweeping changes to the way Americans work, he said.

“If you’re sitting here thinking that this is going to get better, I don’t believe it’s going to get better,” Robinson said during a keynote address.

Yet, he added, the challenge of recruiting and hiring qualified employees is not insurmountable. It will be critical for employers to make their companies the most attractive to applicants at a time when companies across industries are short-staffed and competing for the same talent.

“The choice is as stark as I’ll lay out here,” Robinson said. “Do you want to hire the best available talent in your industry when they’re available, or do you want to be relegated to hiring from the pool of talent that’s left over after more strategic operators have had their first pass at it?”

Dealerships, like other employers, should think of their available jobs as products to be marketed to specific customers — prospective hires — just as they would approach selling vehicles to consumers, he said.

Hireology recently surveyed 6,000 job seekers across industries, including auto retail, and found the majority of respondents applied to at least 16 jobs in the last six months. That means an employer must demonstrate to a job applicant how their company is a better choice than 15 other potential employers, Robinson said.

Pay is a motivating factor for applicants, he said, but Hireology’s survey found 84 percent said they would take a lower-paying job if other aspects of the job meet their needs.

Respondents said they are most looking for schedule flexibility, career growth opportunities and fulfilling work.

Yet the “vast majority” of employers Hireology surveyed in a separate study said they are competing for talent by increasing pay, Robinson said.

“Less than half of you are reporting that you offer flex scheduling,” he said. “Only about a quarter are innovating around career pathing and growth.”

Flexibility doesn’t only mean remote work, Robinson said. Some jobs, such as dealership service technicians, require in-person work. What applicants are asking for from employers is, “can I live the life I need to live, I want to live, in exchange for an employment opportunity and my best work?” he said.

Employers should define career opportunities in 18- to 24-month increments to help candidates visualize their future at a company, he said. And they should ensure they are advertising those aspects to applicants.

Hiring managers also need to respond more quickly to applicants. On average, Robinson said, it takes seven to eight days for employers in industries Hireology works with to get back to a candidate.

“How many cars would you sell if you waited eight days to get back to an Internet lead?” he said. “Zero cars.”

About six in 10 job seekers take a job with the first employer that responds to their application, he said.

“Be the first,” Robinson said. “You want the simple strategy you can sell up when you get back home? We just need to be the first to respond.”

Icon modernizes a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL while preserving patina

Icon modernizes a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL while preserving patina

Los Angeles-based Icon meticulously modernizes classic cars, but sometimes it leaves a layer of patina intact. Those cars are called Derelicts, and the latest one is a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL.

Set to make its public debut at the 2022 SEMA show in Las Vegas, the silver sedan may look slightly weathered on the outside, but underneath the faded paint it’s full of modern upgrades.

Icon made a point of not touching the body shell, but mounted it on a new Art Morrison chassis that includes four-wheel adjustable coilovers and independent rear suspension. Brakes were upgraded with modern Brembo hardware and power assist, and Icon installed its own power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering setup.

The original engine was replaced with a GM-sourced LS9 V-8 crate engine. That’s the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 used in the C6 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. Icon didn’t list output figures, but we know the standard engine makes 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. That power is sent to the rear wheels through a 4L85E 4-speed automatic transmission in the Mercedes.

Icon Derelict 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL

Icon Derelict 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL

Icon tried to hide the modified nature of the car, although the enlarged aluminum wheels are a bit of a giveaway. LED lighting is a more subtle exterior upgrade, and helps reduce energy consumption, Icon noted.

The interior follows the same theme, looking mostly stock but concealing a modern audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, four Focal two-way speakers, and a dual subwoofer with amp.

Icon didn’t disclose a price for this specific car, but noted that its Derelict builds start at $450,000 and are available on a commission basis. So unlike Icon’s series-produced Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Bronco, and Chevrolet Thriftmaster pickup truck restomods, each Derelict is unique.

Past builds include everything from a 1958 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud to an all-electric 1949 Mercury Coupe powered by Tesla tech.