Published By: Greenville Business Magazine
Written By: David Dykes
Greenville, S.C.-based Industrial Project Innovation has been selected as construction manager on Panasonic Energy’s new lithium-ion facility in DeSoto, Kan., a $4 billion project that IPI and industry officials say is important to the U.S. electric vehicle market.
Site work at the De Soto property began late last year.
Engineering News-Record, a trade publication, reported Portland, Ore.-based Mackenzie Inc. is the architect-of-record; Toledo, Ohio-based SSOE Group is providing engineering and design work; and Columbia, Mo.-based Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. and Kansas City, Mo.-based Kissick Construction Co. Inc. are doing site preparation.
“It is an honor to support Panasonic as they expand their manufacturing footprint in the United States,” said Kevin Ball, IPI owner and president. “This is an important project for Kansas and the U.S. electric vehicle market. IPI and IPI’s site-based project team have extensive lithium-ion battery plant construction experience.
“We look forward to collaborating with Panasonic, their vendors, and the community to make this project successful.”
SSOE Group (www.ssoe.com), an internationally ranked architecture and engineering firm, announced in December it had been selected by Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., a Panasonic Group company, to provide primary engineering design and architectural design oversight for the electric vehicle battery plant in De Soto.
It is Panasonic’s first standalone EV battery facility in the U.S.
Panasonic has grown to become the largest lithium-ion battery manufacturer in North America, delivering 6 billion cells and counting.
The Japanese-based company’s expansion in De Soto will not only be transformative for the entire state of Kansas—bringing in a projected $2.5 billion in yearly economic activity to make it the largest economic development undertaking in the state’s history—it will also allow Panasonic to ramp up production to meet surging demand and lead the evolution of the EV industry in the U.S., SSOE officials said.
SSOE said its involvement began at the earliest stage of the project when the firm became engaged in site evaluation efforts with Panasonic’s site selection team. The firm pulled together a team of architects and engineers to guide Panasonic through defining and ranking site criteria, assisting in the evaluation of multiple campus locations.
In July, Panasonic ultimately landed on Astra Enterprise Park (formerly the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant), originally constructed in World War II and vacant for a quarter of a century, with 300 acres and hundreds of millions of dollars in incentive packages to go with it.
A win for Kansas, this is the first economic development project exceeding a billion dollars for the state and will once again make the location a key economic driver for the region, SSOE officials said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year the new plant comes in tandem with Tesla’s plans to boost U.S. production, including at a factory in Austin, Texas, that started delivering vehicles in April.
The Journal reported Japan-based Panasonic is battling larger South Korean and Chinese rivals for share of the EV battery market. It also reported General Motors Co. was planning a $2.6 billion battery plant in Lansing, Mich., with South Korean partner LG Energy Solution, while auto maker Stellantis NV and South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co. were planning a $2.5 billion plant in Indiana.
“Expanding battery production in the U.S. is critical to help meet demand,” The Journal quoted Kazuo Tadanobu, chief executive of Panasonic Energy, a unit of Panasonic Holdings that makes EV batteries, as saying.
It also said Kansas beat out Oklahoma for the Panasonic Energy factory, in part by offering a package of subsidies that includes tax credits and partial rebate of payroll of up to 10 percent a year.
SSOE said it worked with Panasonic to generate a preliminary basis of design with enough detail to allow the construction manager, Industrial Project Innovation, to forecast a construction estimate in a post-Covid market.
SSOE also said the site plan limits interaction between vehicles and pedestrians through a thoughtfully designed parking layout, one-way traffic, separate truck entrance, and site-specific traffic study.
The U-shaped design of the production facility will frame various support structures and utility buildings that will reside behind it, SSOE officials said.
The firm has worked with the world’s largest and most innovative automotive and battery manufacturing companies to retrofit facilities for EV production, design and construct greenfield EV plants, and support the battery manufacturing process at every point in the supply chain.
SSOE said it was engaged in over 25 battery / EV projects in North America and has more than 18 million square feet of battery plant design experience that extends throughout the battery lifecycle—from raw materials to recycling.
Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., established in April 2022 as part of the Panasonic Group’s switch to an operating company system, provides innovative battery technology-based products and solutions globally.
Through its automotive lithium-ion batteries, storage battery systems, and dry batteries, the company said it brings safe, reliable, and convenient power to a broad range of business areas, from mobility and social infrastructure to medical and consumer products.
A leader in developing innovative technologies and solutions for wide-ranging applications in the consumer electronics, housing, automotive, industry, communications, and energy sectors worldwide, the Panasonic Group switched to an operating company system on April 1, 2022, with Panasonic Holdings Corp, serving as a holding company and eight companies positioned under its umbrella.
Over the company’s 70-year history, SSOE has earned a reputation for providing project solutions to high-tech and general manufacturing clients in the semiconductor, automotive, battery, food, chemical, and glass industries.
IPI provides integrated project planning and project delivery acting as construction manager or contractor with an owner’s focus.