DE SOTO, Kan. — City leaders in De Soto are getting a glimpse at what Panasonic’s $4 billion electric vehicle plant may look like. 

Tentative plans for the new facility show a two-story, U-shaped building to be constructed near the southwest corner of West 103rd Street and Dual Drive. 

Alison Hoagland, principal at Mackenzie, said once completed, raw materials will enter the facility through a central point, with production lines filling both wings of the building. 

“The main focus of our current design process has been relative to the production facility, because it is the most important building. We want to make sure we get those jobs coming into this area and getting [the] product off the line is a big part of making sure those jobs happen,” Hoagland said.  

The faculty will also include a variety of employee spaces, including break areas, grab-and-go eating spaces, locker rooms and nursing rooms. 

Roughly 600 acres of the newly named Astra Enterprise Park property will be dedicated to the battery plant. In its entirety, the former ammunition plant property contains approximately 9,000 acres to the south of K-10 Highway. 

While the final details of the Panasonic project are still being determined, the city is currently working on water, sewer and road upgrades to support the future development. 

Carl Walton, vice president of the strategic initiatives and facilities for Panasonic, said during the planning process, the team is hoping to take away lessons learned from Panasonic’s battery production plant in Reno, Nevada.

“We’re very excited about what we have done in Reno, but we’re even more excited about what we’ll be doing here. We really are excited about making history here in Kansas,” Walton said. 

One of the biggest considerations will be traffic flow. 

Zac Smith, civil department manager with engineer SSOE Group, said the team has been working with the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) since July to finalize a traffic improvement plan along K-10 Highway. 

“They are working on doing a design to improve roadway access from the three interchanges of Lexington, Edgerton and Evening Star roads along K-10,”Smith said.   

Smith said for on-site traffic the primary goal will be to limit interaction between semi-truck traffic and employees coming in and out of the facility. Truck traffic will enter on the southside of Daul Drive in a trucks only entrance. Employees will utilize one-way roads to access designated parking areas. 

The development team is requesting the city consider a three-part proposal plan for the battery plant. The company intends to submit a preliminary site plan and mass-grading plan for the Planning Commission to review on Dec. 20.

From there, the commission could review the architectural elevations for the plant near the end of January. Final plans for grading, as well as plans for lighting and signage could be in front of the commission by April 2023. 

Panasonic hopes to begin production in the spring of 2025. Once complete, the facility will primarily produce lithium-ion batteries to supply to Tesla.