Panasonic switches from TVs to EVs for sustainability vision

Japan’s Panasonic, famous for its consumer electronics, has changed focus to make EV battery technology its top priority, and profits are booming

Not so long ago, if you were watching TV, chances are you were doing so on a Japanese brand. Companies like Hitachi, Toshiba, Sony, Sanyo, Sharp and Mitsubishi became synonymous with the latest and greatest consumer electronics. And then there was Panasonic.

Even now, Panasonic screens and monitors are renowned for their superior quality, but market forces have effectively put the TV arm of the Group out of business. Panasonic closed television production plants across the globe, from the US to Vietnam, and now outsources to the Chinese manufacturer TCL.

As TV sets have become cheaper, largely down to cheap Chinese production, more and more ‘traditional’ brands have thrown in the towel. Hitachi stopped in-house production a decade ago, while in 2018 Toshiba sold its TV business to China’s Hisense Group.

But there is a happier ending to this manufacturing melodrama, with Panasonic Group ditching loss-making aspects of the business and increasing its focus on the new energy opportunity.

Panasonic aims to put planet first with Green Impact

Founded in 1918, Panasonic Group always had long-term goals. In 1932, founder Konosuke Matsushita established an astonishing 250-year plan spanning ten generations.

Current Group Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Holdings Corporation, Yuki Kusumi, has set out his own vision for the remaining 160 years of the original founder’s vision.

Top priority is the environment, with the group embracing the Panasonic Green Impact. This ambitious plan aims to ‘create impact that reduces CO2 emissions by more than 300 million tons, or about 1% of current total global emission’.

The aim is also to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions of all operating companies by 2030.

This realignment means that the company has set the automotive battery business as the number-one priority. In the last financial quarter, Panasonic Energy signed a contract to supply batteries for commercial vehicles in the US with leading zero emissions mobility company Hexagon Purus.

Panasonic Energy also started discussions on a deal with Mazda for long-term collaboration on batteries and EVs.

The good news is, this shift is also affecting the bottom line. For the three months to June 2023, sales were up 3% YoY, while operating profit rose 42%. Net profit increased by 310%.

With results like that, who knows where Panasonic will be in 160 years' time.

TIMELINE – Tech Milestones from Panasonic

1923 – Battery-powered bicycle light

1927 – Electric iron

1970 – Direct-drive turntable

1977 – Thin radio

1990 – Camcorder with image stabiliser

1996 – Second-generation mobile phone

1997 – HIT solar cell

2000 – DVD recorder

2005 – LCD TV

2009 – Household fuel cell

2015 – 4K laser projector

2016 – Delivery robot

2021 – Vacuum heat insulating glass


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