Panasonic may release a long-term exclusive supply relationship with Tesla

It is impossible to put eggs in only one basket. Tesla may not want to keep the core components of the power battery in Panasonic's hands. Similarly, Panasonic wants to expand its customer base.

On January 7, the Tesla Shanghai plant (Gigafactory3) officially broke ground. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the first phase of the Tesla Shanghai plant will be completed this summer. According to the plan, the model will be mass-produced at the end of the year, and the capacity will increase significantly next year. The expansion of Model3 means that the power capacity of its core components must also keep up.

Recently, Nets has already signed a preliminary agreement with Tianjin Lishen Battery Co., Ltd., which will supply batteries to the Tesla Shanghai plant. When the industry speculated on the truth of this news, this statement was denied by Tesla in the process of verification: this news is completely untrue. At the same time, Tesla said that he had received a quote from Lishen, but after that, there was no progress, and Tesla did not sign any agreement with them. Tianjin Lishen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

It is understood that as the exclusive supplier of Tesla batteries, Panasonic has two battery factories in China, the Dalian factory mainly produces square batteries, and the Wuxi battery base produces electric motorcycles and low-speed electric vehicles. Car battery. But as we all know, Tesla is equipped with 21700 cylindrical batteries. The Panasonic Chinese factory does not have a battery suitable for Tesla.

According to the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Panasonic is negotiating with Tesla to supply lithium batteries to Tesla's Shanghai plant through Gigafactory, a Tesla battery factory in Nevada, USA, in order to reduce the construction of new batteries by using Panasonic's existing super battery factory. The investment required by the plant; after the production of the Tesla Shanghai plant is on track, Panasonic plans to switch to producing batteries locally.

It is understood that Tesla and Panasonic have cooperated since 2009, and the two have been highly tied to each other. But Tesla has been losing money for many years, and with the changes in the market, it is impossible to put eggs in only one basket. Tesla may not want to let the core component of the power battery be in the hands of Panasonic, and Panasonic may also want to expand its customer base.

Tesla, in early 2018, Musk said that Gigafactory3 will obtain batteries from local Chinese suppliers. Chinese companies such as Lishen, BAK, Far East Foster, and Yiwei Lithium can produce 21,700 cylindrical batteries. These companies may be Panasonic's strong competitors.

For Panasonic, Tesla is its main supplier. According to industry data, Panasonic's supply of Tesla in 2017 accounted for 93% of Panasonic's total installed capacity. In addition, Panasonic supplies batteries for Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen.

According to the latest news, Toyota Motor and Matsushita Electric Co., Ltd. announced today (January 23) that they have signed a business integration contract and joint venture for the establishment of a new company for the new energy vehicle square battery business (hereinafter referred to as "joint venture company"). contract.

The two companies will set up a battery company by the end of 2020, of which Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. will account for 51% and Matsushita Electric Co., Ltd. will account for 49%. The joint venture will engage in research, manufacturing, procurement, and management of prismatic lithium batteries, all-solid batteries, and next-generation batteries for new energy vehicles.

Toyota Motor Corporation will develop its equipment, personnel in the field of battery development and production technology, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. in the development, production technology and manufacturing of the square battery business for new energy vehicles (the factory is located in Japan and Dalian, China), purchasing and accepting orders. Equipment, other assets, debts, and personnel related to management functions are transferred to joint ventures. The number of employees involved in the target business of the two companies transferred to the joint venture company is about 3,500.

The joint venture will help Toyota achieve its goal of selling 1 million EVs and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) by 2030.

It is worth mentioning that the battery products produced by the joint venture company can be sold to many automobile manufacturers in principle through Matsushita Electric Appliance Co., Ltd. The establishment of the joint venture company has allowed Panasonic to explore a larger market space.

On the other hand, on the technical route, Panasonic supplies Tesla with a cylindrical battery, and jointly develops a square battery with Toyota, which does not overlap in its business. Square battery is now the mainstream. According to the statistics of the Institute of Advanced Industrial Technology (GGII), the total installed capacity of China's new energy vehicle square power battery is about 42.25GWh in 2018, accounting for 74.1% of the total installed capacity. The mainstream business of arranging square batteries is more conducive to Panasonic to open up a larger international market.

At the same time, Toyota has been researching solid-state batteries for many years. According to its plan, it will realize the commercialization of all-solid-state batteries in the early 1920s, and increase the energy output density (by volume) of all-solid-state batteries to about 2.5 kW/L. According to the development direction of the next-generation battery, if the solid-state battery can be mass-produced and applied, it will change the power battery market, and it is a forward-looking industry.

Is this a sign that Panasonic is not dependent on Tesla and has another way?

According to the information, in October 2018, Matsushita Electric's Q2 and 3 financial reports showed that the company's net profit for the reporting period was US$1 billion (about 7 billion yuan), down 4.5% year-on-year; among them, Panasonic from April to June. The operating loss of the energy business, most of which is in the battery manufacturing business, has increased fivefold to 8.4 billion yen ($75.34 million). The main reason for the loss was the increase in production costs of the Gigafactory1 super factory jointly operated by Panasonic and Tesla. In addition, in the first two years, Panasonic has invested a lot of money in the research and development of the battery field, but the results have been minimal.

Objectively, the ten-year cooperation between Tesla and Panasonic, which are highly bundled enterprises, cannot be instantly disintegrated. However, in the period of global new energy industry transformation, it is normal for car companies to cooperate with OEMs. China’s Ningde era The establishment of a joint venture with a manufacturer such as GAC, Dongfeng, and SAIC is the best example. In the future, the relationship between Tesla and Panasonic will develop, so stay tuned for follow-up reports.