Archive for the ‘panasonic’ Category

More trouble for Tesla as Panasonic freezes Gigafactory investments

April 11th, 2019
The Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, as seen in 2017.

Enlarge / The Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, as seen in 2017. (credit: Tesla)

On Thursday morning, Japan's Nikkei Asian Review reported that Panasonic has decided to stop its planned investments in Tesla's Gigafactories. The two companies had planned on boosting production capacity at the US Gigafactory from 35GWh to 54GWh by 2020; that now seems unlikely. Additionally, the Japanese company has cancelled plans to invest in Tesla's Chinese production facility, which is currently under construction in Shanghai.

The news represents a real reversal of Panasonic's plans; it recently expanded the US Gigafactory from 10 to 13 production lines to help the car maker grow. The problem is, the growth didn't happen as Tesla's sales slumped. Although the company sells more EVs than any other OEM, its deliveries for Q1 2019 were significantly lower than the previous three months. For Panasonic, that's a real problem; even when Tesla sales were booming, it failed to see any financial benefit. By the end of Panasonic's financial year, the company made a loss of more than $180 million (¥20 billion) from battery production.

A Tesla spokesperson told Nikkei that "We will of course continue to make new investments in Gigafactory 1, as needed." Tesla further elaborated to Electrek that the company believes "there is far more output to be gained from improving existing production equipment than was previously estimated."

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Report: Toyota and Panasonic to create an electric car-battery spinoff company

January 21st, 2019
A Toyota Prius battery

Enlarge / This photo taken on June 5, 2009, shows Toyota Motors' third-generation Prius hybrid vehicle battery module displayed at Panasonic's EV Energy headquarters in Kosei, Aichi, prefecture. (credit: TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images)

According to Nikkei Asian Review, Toyota Motors and Panasonic have agreed to set up a joint-venture company to manufacture vehicle batteries, with Toyota owning 51 percent of the company and Panasonic owning 49 percent.

Ars Technica contacted both companies to confirm the report, and we'll update this story if we hear back.

Nikkei reports that Panasonic would transfer ownership of five battery factories in Japan and China to the joint venture. The joint venture would start operations "in the early 2020s," and it would start producing "batteries with 50 times the capacity of those now used in hybrid vehicles, aiming to bring down production costs through higher volume," according to Nikkei.

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Tesla’s profitable quarter didn’t translate for Panasonic

October 31st, 2018
A Tesla with Panasonic batteries

Enlarge / Visitors inspect a Tesla Co. Model X electric automobile, fitted with Panasonic batteries, on the Panasonic Corp. exhibition stand at the IFA Consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany, on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017. (credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

In the third quarter of 2018, Panasonic lost $65 million in the branch of the business that makes battery cells to power Tesla's electric vehicles, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company said it had to add production and hire workers more quickly than expected as Tesla aggressively ramped up to producing 4,300 Model 3 vehicles a week.

In September, the head of Panasonic's Automotive Division said that the company was on track to complete three new production lines at Tesla's Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, by the end of the year. That would bring the total number of battery-cell-producing lines at the Gigafactory up to 13.

The Model 3 ramp up that ate into Panasonic's bottom line didn't have the same effect on Tesla, which posted its first profitable quarter in several quarters last week. It shares soared.

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More than infotainment: Panasonic on self-driving cars and Tesla’s battery factory

April 29th, 2016

(credit: Getty Images|Akio Kon/Bloomberg )

Everyone wants a slice of the self-driving car market, and we can now add electronics giant Panasonic to that list. Tom Gebhardt, head of Panasonic’s US automotive division spelled out the company’s plans in an interview with Automotive News. He said that Panasonic has ideas about the way we interact with autonomous cars, which the company will develop out of its expertise with infotainment systems.

The company is also working closely with Tesla on the battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, which will be key to Tesla’s ability to deliver almost 400,000 Model 3 electric vehicles to those in that gigantic queue of preorders. Gebhardt wasn’t able to put a number on Panasonic’s contribution to the factory—apparently that’s down to Tesla—but he said that the company would “do what we need to do to assure supply.”

As we’ve discussed previously, government regulators and the auto industry are hoping for great things from autonomous vehicle technology. In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is extremely bullish on self-driving cars, which it sees as the answer to reducing the 33,000 deaths on US roads each year.

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