Tesla Update: Panasonic Battery, Growth


Tesla (s TSLA), the Silicon Valley electric car maker that went public this year, is showing off an investor presentation Thursday morning that, while not earth-shattering, has a few tidbits of information, one of which is that a result of the Tesla/Panasonic deal will be a joint custom-made 18650 (small form factor, cylindrical) automotive battery cell that will have improved life cycle, performance, safety and cost.

Tesla doesn’t have a deal to use the battery exclusively for its cars, it notes in the investor slide, but as Peter Fannon, VP of technology policy for Panasonic Corp. North America, told us last month, one overriding goal of the battery maker’s deal with Tesla was to nourish demand for Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery technology.

Tesla also notes two revenue streams that could help it with the potential gap in sales it expects between when it stops focusing on the current generation EV the Roadster and starts to sell its next-gen EV the Model S in 2012 and 2013. Tesla notes in the investor presentation that it expects $60 million in revenues via its RAV4 EV development deal with Toyota — Tesla and Toyota launched the prototype of the RAV4 EV at the L.A. Auto Show. Tesla also generated around $12 million in sales in the third quarter of 2010 from its development deal with Daimler. Those revenue streams aren’t going to cover the company’s costs, but it’s something.

Tesla also has ambitious plans for its power train platform, and notes in its slides that in addition to a planned sedan (the planned Model S), it also one day hopes to launch a Cabriolet, a van, and an SUV. To meet this type of development need, Tesla has been hiring engineers and notes in its slides that Tesla now employs close to 450 engineers to build vehicles, power train technology and manufacturing technology.

Tesla’s stock remains high around $30 per share today. It jumped in mid-November, up from its IPO debut of $19 per share.

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