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Exclusive: Tesla says it received battery quotes from China's Lish, but no deal was agreed

TIJA (Reuters) – Tesla Inc ( TSLA.O ) said Tuesday that it had received quotes from Tianjin Lishen to deliver batteries to its new Shanghai electric car factory, but had not signed any agreement with the Chinese solid.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors are seen on Lishen Battery Box at a new energy exhibition in Beijing, China March 22, 2009. REUTERS / Stringer

"Tesla has previously received quotes from Lishen, but did not go any further. We have not signed any agreement of some sort with them, "a tesla spokesman told Reuters.

Reuters reported earlier on Tuesday, referring to two sources of direct knowledge of the case, that Tesla and Lishen had entered into a preliminary agreement and worked on the details.

The companies had not yet decided how big an order the American electric car company would place, and Lishen was still working on what battery cell size Tesla would demand, one source said.

The sources refused to be identified because the discussions are private.

Japan's Panasonic ( 6752.T ) is currently Tesla's exclusive battery cell supplier. Their shares closed 2.7 percent after the Reuters report.

In November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the US company would produce all its battery modules and packages in the Shanghai factory and planned to diversify its sources.

"Cell production will be sourced locally, most likely from several companies (incl. Pana), to meet the demand in time," Musk said in a tweet in November.

In a statement, Panasonic said he studied various possibilities with regard to the Tesla Shanghai plant, but nothing was decided. It refused to comment on the possibility of losing exclusive supplier status with Tesla.

The lish did not respond to a request for comment.

Other operating battery machines for contracts may include Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd ( 300750.SZ ) and LG Chem Ltd ( 051910.KS ).

Tesla broke the ground on the $ 2 billion the so-called Gigafactory, the first in China, earlier this month, and plans to start making model 3 electric cars (EV) there by the end of the year.

Musk has said that the factory will produce "more affordable" cars for the Chinese car market, the world's largest, where the company is facing increasing competition and risk from trading tensions in the US and China.


Lishen, saying that customers range from Apple ( AAPL.O ) to Samsung Electronics ( 005930.KS ) to Geely ( 0175). HK ) and Hyundai Motor ( 005380.KS ), have joined other battery manufacturers in aggressively pursuing contracts with the fast-growing EV industry.

The Chinese company started mass production of the same type of cylindrical battery made by Panasonic for Tesla model 3 in 2017, in the city of Suzhou about 100 km from Shanghai.

On Monday, Reuters reported that Panasonic and Toyota Motor Corp ( 7203.T ) were to launch a joint venture next year to produce EV batteries to compete with Chinese rivals.

Slideshow (2 Images)

A joint venture will build on the agreement that the couple announced at the end of 2017 on joint development of batteries with higher energy density in a prismatic cell arrangement.

It will also help Panasonic cut its strong confidence in Tesla, whose production delays have weighed on the Japanese company's earnings.

Panasonic planned to shift most of its prime battery-related equipment and facilities in Japan and China into a joint venture, while those who produce batteries for Tesla would remain under the company, a source said.

Reporting by Yilei Sun and Tom Daly in BEIJING; additional reporting by Makiko Yamazaki in TOKYO; Editing by Brenda Goh and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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