By David Dykes
Industrial Project Innovation, based in Greenville, SC, has been selected as construction manager for Panasonic Energy’s new lithium-ion facility in DeSoto, Kansas, a $4 billion project that IPI and industry officials said will serve the US -electric vehicle market is important.
Site work on the De Soto property began late last year.
Engineering News-Record, a trade publication, reported that Mackenzie Inc., based in Portland, Oregon, is the noted architect; Based in Toledo, Ohio, SSOE Group provides engineering and design services; and Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. of Columbia, Mo. and Kissick Construction Co. Inc. of Kansas City, Mo. are preparing the site.
“It is an honor to help Panasonic expand its manufacturing presence in the United States,” said Kevin Ball, owner and president of IPI. “This is an important project for Kansas and the US electric vehicle market. IPI and IPI’s site-based project team have extensive experience in the construction of lithium-ion battery plants.
“We look forward to working with Panasonic, its vendors and the community to make this project a success.”
SSOE Group (www.ssoe.com), an internationally recognized architecture and engineering firm, announced in December that it had been selected by Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., a Panasonic Group company, to provide the primary engineering design and to oversee the architectural design for the De Soto electric vehicle battery factory.
It is Panasonic’s first standalone battery pack for electric vehicles in the United States
Panasonic has become the largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries in North America, shipping 6 billion cells and counting.
The Japan-based De Soto company’s expansion will not only transform the entire state of Kansas — it’s expected to generate $2.5 billion in annual economic activity to make it the largest economic development venture in state history — it will Panasonic will also enable production to ramp up to meet rising demand and fuel the development of the EV industry in the US, SSOE officials said.
SSOE said its involvement began in the earliest stages of the project when the company engaged in site assessment efforts with Panasonic’s site selection team. The company assembled a team of architects and engineers to guide Panasonic through the definition and ranking of site criteria and to help evaluate multiple campus locations.
In July, Panasonic finally landed 300 acres and hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus packages at Astra Enterprise Park (formerly the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant), originally built during World War II and vacant for a quarter of a century.
A win for Kansas, this is the first economic development project to exceed $1 billion for the state and will once again make the site a key economic engine for the region, SSOE officials said.
The Wall Street Journal reported last year that the new plant comes with Tesla’s plans to boost U.S. production, including at a factory in Austin, Texas, which began delivering vehicles in April.
The Journal reported that Japan-based Panasonic is battling larger South Korean and Chinese competitors for share of the electric vehicle battery market. It was also reported that General Motors Co. is planning a $2.6 billion battery plant in Lansing, Michigan with South Korean partner LG Energy Solution, while automaker Stellantis NV and South Korea’s Samsung SDI Co. are planning a 2.5 -Plan billion-dollar plant in Indiana.
“Expanding battery production in the US is critical to meeting demand,” the journal quoted Kazuo Tadanobu, chief executive of Panasonic Energy, a unit of Panasonic Holdings that makes batteries for electric vehicles.
It also said Kansas beat Oklahoma for the Panasonic Energy plant, in part by offering a subsidy package that includes tax credits and some payroll rebates of up to 10 percent a year.
SSOE said it worked with Panasonic to create a preliminary design base with enough detail for the Industrial Project Innovation construction manager to forecast a construction estimate in a post-Covid market.
SSOE also said the site plan limits vehicle-pedestrian interactions through a thoughtful parking layout, one-way traffic, separate truck entrance and site-specific traffic study.
The U-shaped design of the manufacturing facility will frame various support structures and farm buildings that will stand behind it, SSOE officials said.
The company has worked with the world’s largest and most innovative automotive and battery manufacturers to retrofit EV production facilities, design and build greenfield EV facilities, and support the battery manufacturing process at every point in the supply chain.
SSOE said it has been involved in over 25 battery/EV projects in North America and has more than 18 million square feet of battery facility design experience spanning the entire battery lifecycle – from raw materials to recycling.
Panasonic Energy Co., Ltd., established in April 2022 as part of the Panasonic Group’s transition to one operating system, provides innovative battery technology-based products and solutions worldwide.
Through its lithium-ion automotive batteries, storage battery systems and dry cell batteries, the company says it brings safe, reliable and convenient power to a wide range of business sectors, from mobility and social infrastructure to medical and consumer goods.
As a leader in the development of innovative technologies and solutions for diverse applications in consumer electronics, residential, automotive, industrial, communications and energy worldwide, on April 1, 2022, the Panasonic Group merged with Panasonic Holdings Corp , acting as the holding company, and eight Companies that are positioned under their umbrella.
Throughout the company’s 70-year history, SSOE has earned a strong reputation for providing project solutions to high-tech and general manufacturing customers in the semiconductor, automotive, battery, food, chemical and glass industries.
IPI offers integrated project planning and project execution as a site manager or contractor with an owner orientation.