Tesla Motors revs forward with $30 million from Panasonic

Tesla Motors, which recently opened a new factory in the California town of Fremont, has received $30 million in investment capital from Panasonic. In exchange, Panasonic gets a two percent investment stake in Tesla Motors.

Tesla Motors, the maker of electrically-powered sports car like the coupe shown at left, has received a major investment from Panasonic.

Tesla Motors has received a $30 million investment from Panasonic, the Japanese electronics maker, the AFP reported today. In exchange, Panasonic receives a two-percent equity stake in Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley company headed by PayPal and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. The two companies will work together to develop new battery packs for the fleet of Tesla vehicles.

“It is an honor and a powerful endorsement of our technology that Panasonic, the world’s leading battery-cell manufacturer, would choose to invest in and partner with Tesla,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a press statement today. "We believe our partnership with them will enable us to further improve our battery pack while reducing cost.”

The deal, the AFP notes, comes as Panasonic and other tech giants are turning en masse toward the "fast-growing and lucrative" renewable energy business. Tesla, which went public in June, has also picked up investments from a range of donors, including Toyota and Daimler. Meanwhile, Tesla Motors has been signed by Toyota to work on an all-electric RAV4.

Late last month, Tesla opened what it said was the first-ever California factory devoted solely to electric vehicles. The plant, in the Bay Area town of Fremont, will be used primarily for the construction of the Model S luxury sedan. Tesla reps said they expected to make as many as 7,000 sedans a year, although they stipulated that 80 percent of the space will remain closed until demand for the car increased.

"This factory marks the dawning of a new day for manufacturing in Fremont and the East Bay," Senator Dianne Feinstein said at the October opening of the factory, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. "This is proof of what's possible in California." The Fremont plant was previously used by NUMMI; Tesla will apparently hire many former NUMMI employees.

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