For Panasonic, which is eager to transform itself from a AV manufacturer (TVs, DVDs and smartphones) to an industrial company (read "automotive"), the partnership with Tesla presents a very attractive opportunity.
And yet, how much Tsuga wants to share his company's future with Musk 's big dream (and big talk) remains a question. Whatever decision Tsuga makes will define what Panasonic will become (or won't become) in the next five years.
The biggest issue with Plasma technology was that economies of scale was against it. Plasma was great for TVs but not so great for PC monitors. On top of that there was the lighting market which benifited from LED. So it was too tempting for manufacturers to go in on LED. The power consumption was also another important factor.
In comparison, Batteries are more straight forward. There is no real competing technology other than other lithium ion batteries. If there is an improvement to anode or cathode, generally the process stays the same.
To add to that, Tesla is covering half the cost and Tesla and SolarCity are supplying you guaranteed demand.
It is going in Reno Nevada, I live there, they have already cleared the land for the pad for the building the past month.
Unfortunately, they could backtrack and pick a different state, they are expecting the state to throw in 10 percent in concessions/taxbreaks/cash/improvements. Thats 400-500 million. The most Nevada has ever conceeded was to an Apple server farm last year in the same desolate business park and that was 89 million and the legistlator passed laws to never do that again apparantly.
Texas is the only state that could bribe them with that kind of money.
Apparantly Musk tweeted to the Nevada governor: "The ball is now in your court"
Aside from the possibility of Panasonic becoming a battery supplier to others in the reasonalby near-term, what happens WHEN (not if) the next vehicle battery technology begins to emerge? The range problem facing electric cars is still a key obstacle to broad adoption. Some large and small companies are working hard and fast on fixing that. LI batteries are just a step on the path toward the power source needed to allow the EV market to really take off. One question would be how fast could this factory be converted to a next-generation battery manfacturing technology as it becomes viable?