TOKYO -- Japanese electronics giant Panasonic Corp. said last week that it had invested $30 million in U.S. electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. to cooperate on green powertrain development.
Panasonic, which already manufactures batteries for gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles, joins Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG in taking a stake in the startup headed by Elon Musk. The move underscores increasing confidence in Tesla's technology and ambitions.
Panasonic said its investment came through the purchase of common stock in Tesla. Japanese media reports said the purchase gives Panasonic a 2 percent stake in Tesla.
Tesla currently uses Panasonic battery cells and cells from other manufacturers in its battery modules and has collaborated with the Japanese company in developing next-generation power packs. The partners intend to explore the joint marketing and sales of battery packs.
Panasonic is trying to position itself as a top supplier of batteries for next-generation vehicles that run on all-electric or hybrid powertrains.
It has a joint venture with Toyota, Primearth EV Energy Co., to make nickel-metal hydride and lithium ion batteries.
And it is also merging with rival Japanese electronics maker Sanyo Electric Co., another major manufacturer of nickel-metal hydride and lithium ion batteries.
Tesla makes the $109,000 battery-powered Roadster and aims to begin making the $54,700 electric Model S sedan in 2012.