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Panasonic-Sanyo deal focuses on solar cells, batteries for hybrid cars

November 30th, 2008 by kalyan89 in Press Releases, Reports, PV Industry - Asia, R&D reports

by Yoichiro Hata, EE Times, Tokyo, 07 Nov 2008

In a dramatic restructuring within the Japanese consumer electronics industry, Panasonic Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. have entered into takeover discussions that would result in Sanyo becoming a Panasonic subsidiary, Panasonic president Fumio Ohtsubo confirmed Friday (Nov. 7).  The pending deal is not focused on either company’s traditional product lines but rather on solar cells and rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric cars.

The companies said they hope to collaborate on tapping the growing market for these energy products.  The deal would allow Panasonic to immediately enter the solar panel business.  Armed with HIT (heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer) solar cells, Sanyo is already the world’s seventh largest producer of solar cells.

Ohtsubo said Panasonic’s priority is promoting Sanyo’s solar cells on the worldwide market, using Panasonic’s global distribution channels rather than launching Panasonic’s own solar cell production.  Panasonic also hopes to combine Sanyo’s solar cell business with Panasonic’s polymer electrolyte fuel cell cogeneration systems for energy efficient homes.

As auto manufacturers pushing hard into the hybrid and electric car markets, Panasonic also sees Sanyo’s leading position in the market for rechargeable batteries as a major advantage.  The two companies’ rechargeable battery strategies, however, are so far not aligned since each company supplies different car batteries to different companies. It is believed that Sanyo supplies car batteries to Ford and Volkswagen, while Panasonic is part of a battery venture with Toyota.  Predicting explosive demand for car batteries, Panasonic executives stressed that both companies can benefit from mass production.

Meanwhile, Sanyo president Seiichiro Sano noted that his company is receptive to Panasonic’s takeover plan, mainly because the pending deal would allow Sanyo to expand and accelerate its battery business, the company’s biggest growth sector.