Panasonic invests $30M in Tesla Motors

Panasonic Corporation has invested $30 million in Tesla Motors. The investment was made through the purchase of Tesla common stock in a private placement at a price of $21.15 per share. The investment builds upon a multi-year collaboration of the two companies to accelerate the market expansion of the electric vehicle.

Tesla currently uses Panasonic battery cells in its battery packs and has collaborated with Panasonic on the development of next-generation battery cells designed specifically for electric vehicles. While Tesla’s current battery strategy incorporates proprietary packaging using cells from multiple battery suppliers, Tesla has selected Panasonic as its preferred lithium-ion battery cell supplier for its battery packs.

Panasonic aims to be the number one Green Innovation Company in the Electronics Industry by 2018, the 100th anniversary of our founding. Our sophisticated lithium-ion battery cell technology, combined with Tesla’s market-leading EV powertrain technology, helps us fulfill this goal by promoting sustainable mobility. We are proud to strengthen our relationship with Tesla Motors.

—Naoto Noguchi, President of Energy Company, a unit of Panasonic responsible for the battery cell business

In addition to producing its own vehicles, Tesla also builds electric powertrains, including battery packs, for other automobile manufacturers. Panasonic and Tesla intend to explore joint marketing and sales of battery packs that would be designed and assembled by Tesla using Panasonic’s battery cells.

Tesla is developing a battery-electric version of the RAV4 for Toyota (earlier post), for example. Toyota sources its hybrid batteries from Primearth EV Energy Co., Ltd. (formerly Panasonic EVE), a joint venture between itself and Panasonic. Toyota has also purchased $50 million of Tesla’s common stock.

During the 2009 press conference announcing Daimler’s taking a 10% stake in Tesla, Tesla CEO Elon Musk noted that “Tesla’s R&D is on the pack not the cell. Tesla is agnostic as to...the cell. We are happy to use a Li-Tec cell, or Panasonic or [others]...We are in agreement with Daimler that in the long term fewer cells makes sense.” (Earlier post.)

(Also in 2009, Daimler founded the Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint lithium-ion venture with Evonik Industries AG. Daimler also has a stockholding in Li-Tec, a subsidiary of Evonik.)

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