Panasonic Needs Partners Beyond Just Tesla, Says CEO

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According to the Financial Times, Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga wants the electronics manufacturer to decrease its dependency on electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla as its only buyer of EV batteries by catering to other EV makers across the globe.

“At some point, we need to graduate from our one-legged approach of relying solely on Tesla”, said Tsuga, who will be stepping down from the post of chief executive at the end of March after nine years at the company’s helm. Tsuga will transition into the role of chairman.

“We are entering a different phase and we need to keep an eye on supplying manufacturers other than Tesla.”

After making its first investment in Tesla back in 2010, it was under Tsuga’s leadership that Panasonic invested in Tesla’s $5 billion USD Gigafactory in Nevada, and spent over $2 billion USD on a joint battery manufacturing project with the company.

Panasonic expects to post its first year of profit from its investments with Tesla in battery manufacturing at the end of its current fiscal year this month.

Tesla, which currently sits pretty at a $665 billion USD market cap (beating most traditional automakers by a mile), has gone from having Panasonic as its sole supplier of batteries to also engaging the services of LG Chem and China’s CATL to meet market demand for its EVs.

In addition, Tesla has also revealed plans to start manufacturing its own batteries in order to bring down production costs.

As a result, Tsuga says Panasonic will have to start manufacturing batteries that are not solely compatible with Tesla’s vehicles but also cater to the needs of the other burgeoning EV manufacturers across the globe.

“We need to make batteries that are easy to use for other carmakers”, said Tsuga. “Currently it is difficult to sell unless there is a company that is able to handle our cylindrical batteries with Tesla specifications.”