Tesla’s battery business is one the few bright spots for Panasonic, so a Gigafactory agreement was inevitable, despite Panasonic’s strategic show of reluctance. “The two companies are in the same canoe and will soon agree to shut up and paddle.” That was TeslaMondo’s observation back in May. And the size of Panasonic’s initial investment — pretty small — was also inevitable. The company can’t spook its investors by jumping into the pool with Don Quixote Musk, who wants to occupy Mars and all. It has to dip its toes in, then up to the waist etc. So yesterday’s big news about the Panasonic/Tesla inking wasn’t very big. A Panasonic retreat? Now that would have been big news.
This October piece from the Wall Street Journal is crucial reading if you want to understand Panasonic’s current business mix and why it needs Tesla in that mix. You didn’t click the link, you lazy ass? Then here’s the money shot:
The other big winner this past quarter was “automotive/industrial systems.’’ Together with “eco-solutions,’’ that accounted for around two-thirds of Panasonic’s overall operating profit between July and the end of September. The money-makers in that category, Panasonic said, were lithium-ion batteries the company made for Tesla Motors Inc.’s electric cars.
But wait. There’s more.
What’s the moral of all this? Panasonic has already decided. The company has said it wants to shift from electronics for consumers to gear sold to businesses – indeed, many of the same kinds of products that carried it through the past quarter.