Panasonic Corp., a main supplier for Tesla and strategic partner to the Silicon Valley-based electric car maker, is looking at a bright future as the company continues to ramp battery development and production at the Gigafactory, in conjunction with Tesla.
Thirty percent of Panasonic’s 2017 battery sales were to Tesla, which has become a major focal point for the company’s long term growth strategy. The Japanese electronics giant is focusing on EV battery sales, while demand for consumer electronics continue to see a decline.
“We are now ready for a major turnaround,” said Yoshio Ito, executive vice president of Panasonic’s Automotive & Industrial Systems Co., during a media roundtable with Automotive News. “Our understanding of this market is that it is very promising in terms of growth.”
Panasonic is aimed at increasing both power and energy density in its line of battery cells, which has an overall impact on electric vehicle acceleration and driving range, respectively.
In addition to producing batteries, Panasonic also believes that it has approximately 40 percent of the automotive relays market. Relays, or electronically operated switches, are major components used in an electric vehicle’s drivetrain control system and onboard communications.
Ito said that automotive sales should double to around $21.91 billion by 2022. With a clear position to help transition automakers to all-electric models, Panasonic could be poised for continued growth.
Several major automakers, from Volvo to Daimler to Maserati, have already said that they would be taking major steps toward electrification. While the industry begins to turn toward electric propulsion, Panasonic already has a strong hold on Tesla’s battery production, which is expected to increase exponentially in the coming months.
The automaker has sights set on producing 500,000 vehicles by 2018, which would require a substantial increase in battery cell production. Panasonic is also a key partner to Tesla in both Gigafactories — one in Sparks, Nevada and the other in Buffalo, New York where solar cells are being produced for Tesla’s solar panel and Solar Roof product.
As Tesla works toward volume production of its mass market Model 3 sedan and solar products, Panasonic is well-positioned to become one of the word’s top auto suppliers.