Panasonic CEO on Tesla: It’s probably safe for everyone to not imitate Elon Musk

Tesla Gigafactory Nevada. (Credit: Tesla)

During a recent event for young entrepreneurs, Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga provided some details and insights about Tesla CEO Elon Musk. According to Tsuga, working with Musk has its challenges, but there is no denying that there is an underlying genius in the Tesla CEO’s vision.

The Panasonic CEO described Musk as a “genius who defies common sense and can be overly optimistic,” a statement that is quite accepted in the electric car community. Musk has personally admitted to his overly optimistic nature, which has resulted in the emergence of the term “Elon Time,” referring to potential delays in product and feature releases due to overly aggressive targets.

Yet despite this, Tsuga remarked it is this very nature that allows people like Musk to hold onto big visions. “I believe only geniuses can hold onto big visions, and a genius I know is Elon Musk,” the Panasonic CEO said, as noted in a Channel News Asia report.

Elaborating further, Tsuga stated that Musk’s tendency to be excessively optimistic allows the Tesla CEO to ignore what is inconvenient. This, in turn, allows him to run straight towards his vision. In Tesla’s case, this would be the company’s mission of accelerating the advent of sustainable energy. “Compared to that vision, most things don’t really matter,” the Panasonic CEO remarked.

Ultimately, Tsuga admitted that he could never imitate the Tesla CEO. He also emphasized that it’s probably not safe for everyone to try and imitate Elon Musk. “I can never imitate him,” Tsuga said.

The Panasonic CEO’s most recent remarks come amidst reports that the two companies are looking to expand the existing battery production lines in Gigafactory Nevada. This should allow the battery and powertrain facility to ramp its operations to meet the demand for vehicles like the Model Y, while possibly integrating Tesla’s next generation cells.

Despite a pervading narrative suggesting that the relationship between Tesla and Panasonic has gotten strained over the years, being a supplier for the electric car maker has proven to be a lucrative investment for the Japanese conglomerate. Panasonic posted a 29% drop in its annual operating profit last May — which is understandable due to the onset of the coronavirus — but a look into the company’s numbers shows that its business with Tesla was a silver lining.

While Panasonic’s production over recent months was walloped hard by the pandemic, the company’s battery venture with Tesla at Gigafactory Nevada proved profitable from January to March 2020. These results suggest that despite Tesla opting to ink deals with other suppliers such as LG Chem and CATL for Gigafactory Shanghai’s vehicle production, the relationship between Panasonic and Tesla remains strong and stable.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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