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Auto Industry

E-auto maker Tesla plans new $5-billion battery plant in supply security move

US e-auto pioneer Tesla is planning to build its own battery plant. It's targeting supply security and costs, as it aims to ramp up production for mass market breakthrough.

US electric auto upstart Tesla has vowed to produce more lithium ion batteries itself in 2020 than were produced worldwide in 2013. Media reports say the pledge came as plans emerged for it to build a new $5 billion (3.8 billion euros)battery production plant in the US state of Nevada, adjacent to Tesla's home state of California. Japan's Panasonic is believed to be involved in the deal.

Founded in 2003, Tesla burst onto the scene with its Roadster electric sports car, which shot from 0 - 100km/h in under 4 seconds, but still came with an almost utopian range for e-cars of 394 kilometers (245 miles). It's 2012 S-model has already taken a Car of the Year award. An SUV is also scheduled to go into serial production next year.

E-auto prices still a problem

But prices are still prohibitively high for the mass market breakthrough for e-autos that Tesla has in mind. The S-model has a base price of around 72,600 euros in Europe. Last year Tesla sold 22,500 of them worldwide. Yet by 2020 it wants to be putting 500,000 a year on the road.

So as well as supplying that exponential surge in demand, the Nevada battery plant is also aimed at drastically slashing Tesla's showroom prices. The company has already said it will cut costs ''faster than previously thought possible." Savings of up to 30 percent are said to be possible. Tesla CEO Elon Musk (pictured above) describes the plant as a "Gigafactory," which will provide 6,500 jobs. Production is expected to begin in 2017.

Investors seem to be convinced; Tesla stocks are currently hovering at around $280, their highest since the company went public in 2010.

bew/hg (dpa, Reuters)

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