The Truth About Cars » Panasonic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:09:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Panasonic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Tesla Unveils $5 Billion Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tesla-unveils-5-billion-gigafactory/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 15:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755721 Tesla Gigafactory

After months of speculation, Tesla drew back the curtain on their most ambitious project to date, the Gigafactory.

Yahoo News reports the Gigafactory’s price tag would total $5 billion, $2 billion of which would directly from Tesla — including a portion from a proposed $1.6 billion convertible note offering that will also be used for future vehicle development — with current partner Panasonic and their partners fronting the remainder of the investment. Interestingly, Morgan Stanley announced it was expecting to collect underwriting fees from the note just one day after also issuing a research memo that called for a doubling of their price target for Tesla shares.

Four sites in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are under final consideration for the site of the Gigafactory, and the finished project will employ 6,500 workers. The first goal for the Gigafactory is to begin construction this year in time to open its doors in 2017 at the same time the low-cost Model E is set to enter showrooms, with battery costs projected to fall 30 percent in the same timeframe. The milestone will be followed by a push to increase cell and pack outputs by 35 and 50 GWh/yr by 2020, where Tesla expects to move 500,000 units a year into showrooms around the world. Despite widespread reports to the contrary, Musk told Bloomberg that Panasonic’s participation “is not 100 percent confirmed“.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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Tesla Awards Panasonic 4-Year $7 billion Battery Cell Contract Anticipating 500% Increase in Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/tesla-awards-panasonic-4-year-7-billion-battery-cell-contract-anticipating-500-increase-in-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/tesla-awards-panasonic-4-year-7-billion-battery-cell-contract-anticipating-500-increase-in-production/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 09:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=638393  

 

Tesla Motors has used exclusively Panasonic lithium ion battery cells since it started selling electric cars.

Tesla Motors has used exclusively Panasonic lithium ion battery cells since it started selling electric cars. 2010 photo.

Panasonic Corp., which already is the largest supplier of lithium ion batteries for the electric car industry, has announced that it has signed a new contract with Tesla to supply battery cells for the Model S and upcoming Model X electric vehicles. The Japanese company will supply 2 billion 18650 form factor lithium-ion cells worth up to $7 billion over the next four years. Panasonic has been Tesla’s exclusive supplier of battery cells since it started selling its first EV, the Tesla Roadster.

02-liion18650

 

Since Tesla has used 200 million cells over the past two years, the contract indicates a significant ramp up of production is planned, a five-fold annual increase. Tesla has said that it expects to deliver about 21,000 Model S cars this year and that the Model X crossover will go on sale at the end of 2014.

 

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Adventures in Automotive Branding: That “Distinctive Fender Sound” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/adventures-in-automotive-branding-that-distinctive-fender-sound/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/adventures-in-automotive-branding-that-distinctive-fender-sound/#comments Wed, 27 Mar 2013 13:48:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=482431

Detroit is a funny market when it comes to advertising. In addition to the ads, commercials and billboards that you might see or hear in other markets from national and regional advertisers, there is some advertising that is specific to the automotive industry, usually from tier 1 vendors trying to make a sale to one of the domestic automakers. As a result, there might be a billboard on I-75 about, for example, exhaust systems, suspension components or audio equipment that is targeted at a relatively small audience, the people at Chrysler, GM and Ford who make the final engineering and purchasing decisions.

Driving home from an errand I heard the announcer on WJR, “the great voice of the Great Lakes broadcasting from the golden tower of the Fisher Building”, start talking about the synergy when two musicians first meet, discuss common influences, then get together, plug in their instruments and start to write songs. I thought he was going to discuss when Lennon met McCartney or when Richards met Jagger but in fact it was a live commercial announcement for how Panasonic and Fender have partnered to sell Fender Premium Audio branded stereos to the OEMs. Apparently the deal that VW has to sell Panasonic made components labeled with Fender’s brand is not an exclusive one.

1959 - 1960 Fender Bassman Photo: RocknRollvintage.com

It’s interesting that Panasonic thinks that Fender is a brand name that has more cachet with consumers when it comes to premium audio equipment than the Panasonic brand name itself. It’s doubly interesting because Fender has, until now, not been a brand for consumer audio equipment, premium or otherwise. This deal should make it clear that just because your car may be branded with the name of a particular audio company doesn’t mean that specific company actually made or even sold what’s installed in your car. The fact that your car comes with Fender Premium Audio doesn’t mean that Fender made the stuff any more than buying a Bill Blass Edition Lincoln meant that you were getting upholstery that came out Mr. Blass’ workshops, if he had them. A brand is a brand, just a mark.

Actually it’s triply interesting since the announcer in the commercial touted “Fender’s distinctive sound”. Now I don’t play guitar but I do make a little bit of noise in key on the harmonica, and if there is something  distinctive about the sound of Fender amps and loudspeaker cabinets it is their distinctive distortion. As you can see from that link, Jack Baruth discussed this back when the deal with VW was first announced, and we shared a laugh about this, but I never thought they’d actually use “Fender’s distinctive sound” to sell high fidelity audio systems.

The ideal amplifier, electronically speaking, adds no distinctive audio signature. What goes in comes out, only with more gain. There’s no such thing as the ideal amplifier, but makers of audio equipment used to reproduce music generally design and test equipment to have as little distortion as possible. Sometime in the history of rock and roll or the blues, though, someone figured out that if you turned the amps up loud enough so that the preamp would overdrive the output tubes to distortion levels (this was before transistors and other solid state components), you could end up with some very cool sounding music. Not all distortion is unpleasing. While odd order harmonics are what makes fingernails on a blackboard so grating, the ear tends to like even order harmonics. Guitar players and players of other electric instruments, like harmonica players digging through a box of half-century or older ceramic microphone cartridges, are going for the right combination of distortion. Also, if you chose the right sized drivers for your loudspeaker, you could get them to break up and distort in a pleasing and artistic manner as well. The net result is what players call “tone”.

That’s the reason why guitar players love the sound of amps like the Fender Bassman, and others derived from Fender’s 1950s classics like Marshalls. They love the distinctive distortion

That’s not the case with home audio equipment and likewise the stuff you want in your car. That gear is intended to be as much like the theoretical  ideal amplifier as possible. I’m quite sure that the Fender branded audio equipment that is being sold to OEM’s by Panasonic has fine distortion specs. CNET ranked the stereo in the VW Beetle Turbo as their personal favorite for 2011, saying it competed well with audiophile home equipment. I’m sure that Fender Premium Audio equipment very accurately reproduces “Fender’s distinctive sound” well. It may not make my ears bleed but it does make my head hurt.

The last election cycle in the United States brought forth the term “low information voter”. That’s made me think about low information consumers. There is, after all, a reason why Panasonic has hooked up with Fender. The Fender brand has recognition well beyond the relatively small community of electric guitar players and other folks familiar with guitar amps. I don’t begrudge Fender and Panasonic and VW and whoever else decides to spec Fender Premium Audio in their cars the right to exploit that brand identification. I just think that they’re treating people like low information consumers and that most of Fender’s existing customers must laugh in derision when they hear about “Fender’s distinctive sound” when it comes to car audio. The fact that Panasonic and Fender think that the folks who make engineering and purchasing decisions at car companies are also low information consumers is noteworthy as well.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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Wild Ass Rumor Of The Day: Tesla Model S Delayed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-tesla-model-s-delayed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/01/wild-ass-rumor-of-the-day-tesla-model-s-delayed/#comments Tue, 12 Jan 2010 21:19:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=341585 Er, cover it back up again...

Speaking to MarketWatch at the Detroit Auto Show, Tesla Chairman Elon Musk apparently just revealed that the Tesla Model S sedan will be released “within two and a half years.” Which is interesting considering Musk claimed that production would start in 2011 at the Model S launch last March. But then, Tesla is still trying to decide on a factory location, apparently waffling between former aeronautical manufacturing locations in Downey and Long Beach. And apparently Tesla’s mere consideration of a brownfield site in Downey has drawn protests from a group calling themselves The Raging Grannies.

Meanwhile Tesla’s main claim to fame, a system of interconnected battery cells, has been somewhat undermined by news of a deal between Tesla and Panasonic. Though Tesla admits it will use Panasonic’s battery cells in its newest battery packs, it insists that its “current battery strategy incorporates proprietary packaging using cells from multiple battery suppliers.”

Further on, we still haven’t heard a peep out of Tesla in regards to one of the biggest questions surrounding Model S development: the allegedly in-house designed platform. Rumors have flown about that the platform might be based on a Mercedes architecture, given the battery cooperation agreement between Tesla and Daimler. If that’s the case, nobody from either side has confirmed it. And developing new platforms isn’t easy or cheap. Unless Tesla announces a factory and a chassis partner soon, this could be just the first of several Model S delays.

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