The Japanese battery manufacturer Panasonic has sold its stake in Tesla for 3.6 billion dollars (the equivalent of about three billion euros). A good deal, because the company bought 1.4 million Tesla shares for around 30 million dollars more than ten years ago.
This was reported by Reuters with reference to statements by a company spokesperson. The partnership with Tesla will not be affected by this, the Panasonic spokesperson said. However, the stake sale comes at a time when the electric car maker is diversifying its own battery supply chain.
Panasonic bought said 1.4 million Tesla shares in 2010 for around $30 million. At the end of March 2020, the shares were worth around $730 million. Since then, the value of the shares has increased almost sevenfold. Tesla shares closed up 3.5 per cent at $679.82 apiece on Thursday.
“The impact of crypto assets may have pushed Tesla’s share price above its intrinsic value, making it a good time to sell,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute, according to the report. While Panasonic supported Tesla financially when it was smaller, the carmaker’s expansion means there is no longer a need for capital ties, Yasuda adds. Shares in Panasonic were up as much as 4.2 per cent on Friday.
Panasonic’s battery business is dominated by Elon Musk’s Tesla, but the two companies have had a strained relationship at times. Meanwhile, Tesla is known to no longer buy its cells only from Panasonic, but also from suppliers LG Energy Solution and CATL.
The latter group is reportedly planning a large new factory with an annual capacity of 80 GWh in the immediate vicinity of the Tesla plant in Shanghai. There is no information on the timetable yet. According to insiders, the cells produced in the factory will be able to be integrated directly into the chassis of the electric cars – if the factory is built. CATL announced the corresponding “cell-to-chassis” technology last year.
According to insiders, up to 5,000 jobs are to be created in the plant. The new Shanghai plant would add the said 80 GWh to CATL’s current production capacity of 69.1 GWh (plus 77.5 GWh from plants currently under construction). CATL hopes to rapidly expand its cooperation with Tesla to become its largest supplier in the near future. The goal is to provide half of the battery cells Tesla uses in electric cars and stationary energy storage worldwide.
But Panasonic also plans to remain close to Tesla. The Japanese company announced at the beginning of the year that they would start manufacturing prototypes of the new 4680 battery cell presented by Tesla at their ‘Battery Day’. The date for the start of production before the end of the year was given in a report in the Japanese business paper Nikkei. According to the report, the prototype production line is to be built in an existing plant. The most likely location is Gigafactory 1 in Nevada. The investment in this project is said to amount to “tens of millions of dollars”.
Tesla presented the significantly larger and more powerful battery cell called 4680 in September last year. The name traditionally refers to the dimensions at Tesla: The diameter of the round cell is 46 millimetres, the cell is 80 millimetres long. The new cells should not only improve the range and performance of the electric cars, but also be cheaper per kilowatt hour and significantly reduce the investment costs in their production.
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