Panasonic plans to make a huge initial investment into Tesla's battery plant, but it comes just as the yen has weakened against the dollar. Fred Katayama reports.
Panasonic is putting its money where Elon Musk's mouth is. The electronics company says it'll initially invest "tens of billions of yen" into Tesla Motor's gigantic lithium-ion battery factory. Tesla is building the $5 billion so-called "gigafactory" in Nevada to produce electric cars. Its CEO, Elon Musk, has said he expects Panasonic to contribute up to 40 percent of that total cost. Since Musk made that estimate in July, the dollar has risen about 6 percent against the yen. Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga said he didn't think the current rate was "bad" so long as it remained stable. Tesla stocks, which pulled back sharply last month, eased in early trading. This Thursday, Tesla will reportedly reveal its latest upgrades on its Model S sedan. The Wall Street Journal says, look for more automated driving features. Musk turned on the tease, tweeting, "about time to unveil the D and something else." CLSA analyst Andrew Fung, who recently toured Tesla's California plant, guesses that D stands for "dual-motor" and refers to an all-wheel-drive version of the Model S. He said, "Availability of all-wheel-drive is a strong positive for demand, as the feature is immensely popular in regions where it snows, which... should support continued sales momentum." That's the new. Now, according to Automotive News, Musk is focused on the old, too. It says Telsa is developing a program to sell used Model Ss. Its first cars are about to turn three.