Tesla Inc. is looking to build a battery plant in the U.S., according to people familiar with the matter, in what would likely be a controversial arrangement with China’s dominant electric-vehicle battery manufacturer.
The EV maker discussed plans involving Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. with the White House in recent days, said the people, who asked not to be identified revealing private conversations. Tesla representatives sought clarity on the Inflation Reduction Act rules that the Biden administration is finalizing this week, according to some of the people. Rohan Patel, the company’s senior global director of public policy, was among those involved with the discussions, one of the people said.
Tesla wants to pursue a deal similar to one that Ford Motor Co. announced last month in Michigan with the battery maker, known as CATL, to construct a plant wholly owned by the US automaker, according to the people.
Representatives of Tesla, CATL and the White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Patel also didn’t respond.
Tesla is in expansion mode, deploying its $22 billion in cash to crank up production volumes and lower costs as it faces increased competition. CATL, which makes lithium iron phosphate batteries, a chemistry that is cheaper than the nickel-based batteries used in the West, is key to that plan.