Kansas City’s big role in the electric revolution

Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 10:41 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The global push for electric vehicles and the use of renewable energies has the Kansas City region at the forefront of a trending revolution.

“All of the equipment you see out on the tarmac at KCI when you are up there is electric,” said Chris Gutierrez, the President of KC SmartPort.

Officials are calling it the electric revolution. Industry leaders at the KC SmartPort Annual Industry Briefing say the Kansas City region is a leader in the charge.

“Our power grid is changing how we are electrifying, and how we are moving away from fossil fuels and moving to renewable energy,” said Chris Ruckman, the VP of Energy Storage at Burns & McDonnell.

Industry officials say Kansas City is home to some of the largest engineering and construction firms that are making strides to do just that.

It was just last November that Kansas dignitaries and leaders broke ground on the new Panasonic electric vehicle battery plant in De Soto.

It’s the largest economic development project in the history of the state. Experts believe it will bring thousands of jobs.

“It has put us on the world map,” said Gutierrez. “It’s going to continue to put us on the world stage. The jobs are going to be high-tech, advanced jobs that a lot of the Kansas City region is going to be able to take advantage of.”

It comes at a time when demand for electric vehicles is on the rise, which means the EV battery market will continue to grow.

Last year, experts said it was worth more than more than $56 billion. They believe it will surpass $130 billion by 2027.

Panasonic leaders say they’re excited to work hand and hand with Kansas and the KC region during this time.

“One of the main reasons Kansas was chosen was the people and the skill set of laborers available,” said Ajay Gnanasekaran, the Director of Strategy and Program Management for Panasonic. “This industry requires a lot of skilled laborers, otherwise it’s hard to run a factory of that magnitude. So, Kansas was an immediate choice based on that.”

Construction of the $4 billion Panasonic EV battery plant is expected to be completed, and the plant operational, in 2025.