Panasonic has been involved with Tesla’s Gigafactory from the beginning of the project, but until now, it hasn’t said exactly how much it plans to invest.
Now Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga has told Marketwatch that the company will invest up to $1.6 billion, hoping to secure its future in automotive electronics.
Sales to carmakers represented about 15 percent of Panasonic’s revenue in 2015, but the company aims to double that over the next four years. That objective is highly dependent on Tesla’s ability to meet its goal of selling 500,000 cars a year by 2020, as batteries are expected to provide the lion’s share of Panasonic’s automotive-market sales.
“We are sort of waiting on the demand from Tesla,” Mr. Tsuga said. “If Tesla succeeds and the electric vehicle becomes mainstream, the world will be changed and we will have lots of opportunity to grow.”
Tesla and Panasonic plan to build the factory in eight phases, and are currently in the first phase. So far, the Japanese company’s investment has been small, but by the time the Gig is fully up to speed, Panasonic will have provided between 1.5 and 1.6 billion dollars, out of a total price tag of 4 to 5 billion, Mr. Tsuga said.
Panasonic employees were expected to arrive in Nevada at the end of 2015 to prepare for the start of cell production. The factory will begin producing batteries this year for Tesla’s Powerwall energy storage business.