By on March 21, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue SL AWD Palatial Ruby infotainment, Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn

The company once known mainly for its televisions is growing ever-longer tentacles into the automotive industry.

Panasonic, which is already a major battery supplier for electrified vehicles, has bought a majority stake in a Spanish auto parts supplier, giving it a larger foothold in the automotive realm.

Reuters reports Samsung has decided to purchase an extra 20 percent of Ficosa, which produces high-tech automotive mirrors and various safety systems, raises its ownership of the company to 69 percent. Panasonic hasn’t detailed the purchase cost.

The deal, which could be approved in April, is part of an industry-wide trend towards high-value automobiles. As we’ve seen with Google, Apple, and a myriad of other tech companies, there’s money in them there cars. Builders of mobile devices and other electronics see supplying the auto industry as a stable meal ticket — the best way to avoid ruin while battling for scarce dollars at the lower end of the consumer market.

Panasonic’s Automotive & Industrial Systems Company has many global branches, with its American offices located in Peachtree, Georgia, and Farmington Hills, Michigan. Globally, the company predicts auto-related income of nearly $18 billion by 2019. That income surge comes by way of infotainment and connectivity systems that no new car can be without.

In 2015, Ficosa announced a new production facility in Tennessee for its rear-view camera systems — its first in the U.S. It opened on October 31. From that plant, the company supplies the Detroit Three, as well as Nissan and Volkswagen.

The two companies have already partnered on the development of an “intelligent” rear-view mirror that uses a rear-facing camera to project an image.

[Image: © 2017 Chris Tonn/The Truth About Cars]

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14 Comments on “Panasonic’s Automotive Influence Grows as Company Takes Over Supplier...”


  • avatar
    dawooj

    “Reuters reports Samsung has decided to purchase an extra 20 percent of Ficosa”

    Samsung?

  • avatar
    prisoners

    I hate Blues Traveler.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Honestly, I’m not surprised to see well-known aftermarket suppliers moving into the automotive mainstream; unlike the old-school entertainment stacks, there’s enough computing power in these modern stacks that “real professionals” are needed to ensure they will do everything they’re meant to do–including offer improved security to help protect the systems from malicious hackers.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “Moving?”

      you’re about 20 years behind, man. When I worked for Alpine in the ’90s, by far their biggest business was as a Tier 1 supplier to multiple automakers. Panasonic has been an OE automotive supplier for at least as long.

      don’t know why people act like this is something new.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        So show me where Panasonic, Sony, Kenwood and so many others have been factory-installed by name-brand automakers. Yes, I’m aware of Alpine; I’m also aware of Bose and a couple of others. But we’re now talking about companies who have built aftermarket devices and in some cases actual computers (admittedly on someone else’s design) for a long time now.

        The new is the brand, NOT the product.

        Now tell me: what systems have OEMs installed in the factory from Panasonic? Show proof, if you can.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Subaru uses/used Panasonic OEM audio, at least between 2010 and 2014, in Legacy/Outback vehicles. The low ball unit was from Clarion; the mid-unit used in the Premium models and some Limited’s was Panasonic; the high end was Harmon-Kardon. IIRC Toyota used/uses Panasonic in some models as well. The 4.3″ head unit number for the Panasonic units in my Outbacks is PE669U1 with Panasonic ref# CQ-FF13E04D. Type the PE669U1 into eBay and see the pictures of the stickers on the units.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Thank you for the information. All the automotive head units of which I’m aware have carried head units branded by companies owned by the OEMs with third-party brands being extra-cost upgrades. You know, brands like Delco, Philips, Philco, etc. uConnect seems to be Chrysler’s house brand now.

  • avatar
    raffi14

    Panasonic has long been primarily a business-to-business component supplier more than consumer facing. They make the best batteries and capacitors for example.

  • avatar
    Sceptic

    This article is completely confusing. Which is it Panasonic or Samsung?

    “****Samsung**** has decided to purchase an extra 20 percent of Ficosa, which … raises its ownership of the company to 69 percent. ****Panasonic**** hasn’t detailed the purchase cost.”

    Hello, proofreader or editor needed.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Some Rambling thoughts.

    I used Panasonic Head unites in several cars back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. I don’t know what it was about their digital amps in their head units, but they always sounded better to my ear over Sony and Pioneer.

    Also Interesting is had Panasonic directly and several recruiters try and get me to interview over there in Peachtree GA.

    Getting to Samsung, a friend of mine works for a company doing high end Video stuff that was purchased some time ago by Harman. Then recently Samsung purchased Harmon mainly for Harman’s auto business.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      which ones had “digital” amps?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Anybody remember the Panasonic Cockpit overhead stereo? I wanted one badly but was convinced by some audio friends not to go that route…cassette head unit that topped out at 14KHz was the deal killer.

        Digital amps? I’ll go out on a limb here and maybe they are referring to electronic processing used to step up the input voltage to a high enough level to get beyond the 20 watt max you can get with 12 volts…

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