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"
Lets put it into perspective, Apple datacenter created 35 perminent jobs for 89 million. ( 2.54 million per job )
Tesla is offering 6,500 jobs ( 76.92k per job ). That is like almost 190 Apple datacenters. Factor in the manufacturing Jobs multiplier, I am sure Nevada can work that out.
The Tesla factory would be paid off in tax revenue in about 3-5 years. The Apple datacenter won't be paid off this milenium.
If Nevada lands this factory, Tesla will instantly jump to #6 employer in the state. When factoring in that these are high paying jobs, they will probably become the #1 or #2 spender on employment salaries in the state.
Nevada does not have anything close to 500 million.
Texas could easily provide that.
Plus the lack of skilled workforce in Nevada is a big minus. If you want to build a warehouse or something then there are plenty of almost high school graduates with missing teeth and tattoos in Nevada to run a warehouse. Not a tech-factory.
It does not need to provide 500 million upfront. The inventives will be divided into multiple things from exemptions on property tax and etc. And they will be provided over years of time.
Due to proximity to California, you might have some people move there to provide skilled labor. On top of that, Tesla will announce a winner by end of the year. The battery factory will be running by 2017 and full production by 2020.
That gives University of Nevada, Reno 2 years to train the first batch in their universities. And up to 5 years to train the second batch. More than enough time.
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?
The next energy source technology appears to be quite near now ( after a half century :-( ). I'd wait a while to see what Rossi's ECAT technology, Nanospire's sonofusion devices, Blacklight Power's hydrino technology and a dozen other technologies on the horizon will occur. I'm quite sure that all devices from cell phones, vacuum cleaners, jet aircraft and cars will be entirely self contained with no charging or refueling required. These technologies are imminent in a relatively short time. ( We know for sure E=MC^2, it's just an engineering detail how to convert a microgram of matter into gallons of equivalent fuel. ).
It'll be the end of the petroleum industry, power grid, and many others.
""It'll be the end of the petroleum industry, power grid, and many others"
Or... maybe so.
After all... as a "technological" species, we humans have been "burning-stuff" as our primary energy source for... how long, now?
Twenty-five... fifty... thousand years, now? Maybe longer?
Can't we do better than that? Isn't it about time for a change?
Or do we resist in order to continue to cling to that good-old familiar and comforting smoky and crackling camp-fire concept ( that has made us feel safe and secure for such a very long time that we may have even evolved a preference for it ) from now until... when?
When all the oil runs out?
And, really, because what we are actually doing is just making a very few people obscenely rich off of their continuing to supply us with tanker-loads full of a supposedly non-renewable resource? A "non-renewable" resource that just might actually still be bubbling up as byproduct-gunk from carbon still mixed in with the molten core of the planet.
In which case, we will keep using it ( all the while being told that it's still in short supply... for one reason or another ) until the planet globally chokes upon a pall of carbon-dioxide induced climate-change?
Which IS the one solid fact in this equation, folks.
Unless we really want to comfort ourselves with the words of Washington D.C. DA Paul "Igor" Ryan, that "climate-change is going to happen anyway."
Big industries can be adaptable to change. They have large research staff who can find new technologies, and the infrastructure and resources to adapt. That is, unless management stonewalls them (looking at you, Kodak).
The smart utilities got out of the generating business and are now merchants of energy. There will always be people who need more or less than they can generate themselves, at certain times. That's why we have a grid.
The petroleum industry will run out of dino juice, but the ones that adapt to a different, greener feedstock will survive. Maybe they can turn all that Lake Erie slime into biobutanol.
If Panasonic is providing robots and equpment, that means that they corner the market. They already do tons of business in robots and they can will immediately become the biggest battery robot producer in the industry (if they aren't aready). Seems like a no brainer for Panasonic.
Like big factories for solar cells, integrated circuits, and LCD screens, the battery factory is at the mercy of advancing technology which may render it obsolete. Certainly there is a market for rechargeable batteries ... the challenge is to be producing the technology that is currently in demand for automobiles and computer use.