Panasonic are focusing on the more lucrative corporate market as part of their growth strategy and already have a track record of working with Tesla. This latest partnership demonstrates Panasonic's seriousness about the autonomous car market and follows a flurry of similar deals between tech companies and vehicle manufacturers.
Panasonic is the exclusive supplier of batteries for Tesla's Model S, Model X and upcoming mass market Model 3, and plans to contribute $1.6 billion to Tesla's $5 billion battery factory. "We are deeply interested in Tesla's self-driving system," Chief Executive Officer Kazuhiro Tsuga said in an interview on Thursday. "We are hoping to expand our collaboration by jointly developing devices for that, such as sensors." One candidate would be so-called organic photoconductive film CMOS image sensors currently under development at Panasonic, which enable high-speed sensing of moving objects without distortion, Tsuga said. Panasonic aims to add such technology to an automotive business that also includes cockpit displays and navigation systems. It targets annual sales of 2 trillion yen ($17.43 billion) for that business in the year through March 2019, from 1.3 trillion yen in the year ended March 2016.