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Tesla’s Cell Supplier Hires Battery Expert for Key Gigafactory Job

Dana Hull

(Bloomberg) -- Panasonic Corp. has hired a former Tesla Inc. battery guru to a senior role at the so-called gigafactory the two companies share in the U.S.

Celina Mikolajczak, who left Tesla in early 2018 for short stint at Uber Technologies Inc., joined Panasonic this month as vice president of battery technology. She’ll be based in Reno, Nevada, where Tesla and Panasonic produce electric vehicle battery packs for Model 3 sedans.

“Celina is a leader in the lithium-ion industry who is widely recognized for her technical acumen and leadership,” Allan Swan, president of Panasonic Energy of North America, said in an emailed statement. “We look forward to the contributions she will make to the history-making work of our Reno team and the role we’re playing in making the electric vehicle future a reality.”

Tesla and Panasonic have been partners since at least 2011, though they took their business relationship to another level three years later by agreeing to jointly build and operate the Nevada plant Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk estimated would cost about $5 billion.

Musk engaged in a public Twitter spat with Panasonic earlier this year over the pace of expansion at the factory. Tesla is now nearing the start of production at the car plant it’s building on the outskirts of Shanghai and has agreed to buy batteries from South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. for those vehicles, people familiar with the matter said in August.

Mikolajczak was responsible for Uber’s battery programs, including its Jump electric bicycles and Elevate flight business. She worked at Tesla from 2012 to 2018, leading development and validation of batteries for Tesla’s electric cars and stationary-storage products.

(Updates with Panasonic’s emailed statement in third paragraph)

To contact the reporter on this story: Dana Hull in San Francisco at dhull12@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Craig Trudell at ctrudell1@bloomberg.net, Anne Riley Moffat

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