Panasonic Pumps $30 Million Into Tesla

Panasonic made a statement about its intention to lead the field in supplying batteries for next-generation electric vehicles (EVs), and in the process gave Tesla Motors another boost. The companies announced that the Japanese electronics giant was pumping $30 million into the start up EV-maker.

Panasonic and Tesla were already in business together — Panasonic batteries are among those used by Tesla, and the two have collaborated on developing new EV battery packs. But with this move, the relationship becomes exclusive: “Tesla has selected Panasonic as its preferred lithium-ion batter cell supplier for its battery packs,” the companies said.

Tesla Roadster

image via Tesla

Tesla, with 1,300 Roadsters already on the road and a more modestly priced sedan on the way in 2012, is becoming a magnet for EV-related companies. In May, Toyota invested $50 million in Tesla, and the companies subsequently announced a partnership to outfit the RAV4 with a Tesla powertrain.

For its part, Panasonic cast the deal as part of an effort to become “the number one green innovation company” in the electronics industry. “Our sophisticated lithium-ion battery cell technology, combined with Tesla’s market-leading EV powertrain technology, helps us fulfill this goal by promoting sustainable mobility, ” said Naoto Noguchi, president of Panasonic’s battery cell business.

Want to win a solar power charger for your mobile gear? We are holding a contest for one through November 12, 2010. Sign for our newsletter to enter – details can be found at our Contests page.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.