News that Panasonic has not fully committed to Tesla’s planned Gigafactory may be the reason the automaker’s shares dipped lower on NASDAQ by two percent Monday.
Tesla needs partners to shoulder the burden of the proposed biggest lithium-ion battery the world has ever seen. The project is estimated to cost between $4-5 billion and Panasonic’s involvement would “facilitate strategic access to Panasonic’s supply chain and reduce risks,” according to an analyst at Wedbush Securities.
The Gigafactory could lower the cost of batteries by as much as 30 percent, paving the way for a cheaper Tesla. The automaker has already pledged $2 billion project from cash it raised through a convertible debt offering last month.
Panasonic, Tesla’s supply partner was supposed to be participating in the project, but its president Kazuhiro Tsuga told Bloomberg news that the factory comes with serious investment risks that he’s not sure he wants to pony up for.
The news sets the stage for a possible new partner, Apple to join the fray. Apple’s consumer electronics products rely on lithium-ion cells, creating the possibility that the tech giant may just want to muscle up to the green car machine.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk met with Apple’s chief of mergers and acquisitions last spring, possibly setting the stage for a beautiful relationship between the pair. Initial reports suggested Apple might be looking to acquire Tesla, but a more likely bet is that it could see the win-win for both in joining Tesla’s Gigafactory.
Tesla may find some of Apple’s battery patents lucrative, including a new smart power-management system that can extend an iPhone’s battery life by learning users’ habits. Additionally, Apple could use the batteries to augment its huge solar installations at its data centers or factories” according to Seth Weintraub of 9To5Mac.
Only time will tell if this interesting pairing comes to fruition, or if Panasonic fully commits to the project, but you can bet that all parties will continue to talk about this Gigafactory that is surely going to change technology dramatically.