Elon Musk, CEO of startup electric-car maker Tesla Motors, is no doubt used to skepticism.
Now he faces new doubts over the company’s plans for a massive “gigafactory” costing as much as $5 billion to manufacture more lithium-ion cells than any other plant in the world.
Having mostly convinced disbelieving analysts, journalists, and industry colleagues that Tesla can at least design, engineer, build, and sell good-looking, high-performance all-electric luxury sedans, Musk may not pay a lot of attention to “you can’t” noises from critics.
Panasonic: large risk
But even Tesla’s lithium-ion cell supplier, Panasonic — which owns a small share of the company — hasn’t yet committed to participating in the gigafactory plan.
Bloomberg noted last week that the Japanese electronics giant’s president, Kazuhiro Tsuga, told reporters the project would pose an “investment risk [that] is definitely larger” than the company prefers.
Panasonic prefers to “make investments step by step,” he said, adding that he “would like to cooperate” with Musk’s plans. He also noted that Panasonic’s battery production “depends” on Tesla sales, which it monitors closely.
Tsuga’s comments may reflect the slow pace of building consensus for such a major investment on Panasonic’s part.
VW, Daimler perplexed
But it is hardly the only voice saying the gigafactory plan could be too large and too much for Tesla to bite off.
An article yesterday in The Wall Street Journal quoted Harald Kroeger, the head of Daimler’s electric-vehicle efforts, who noted that the gigafactory plan had “some huge disadvantages” to go along with its benefits.
(Daimler, which makes Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars, owns a small stake in Tesla Motors, too, as does Toyota.)
And Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said he didn’t “quite get it,” noting that VW would not consider opening its own battery plant, as it had enough suppliers for its needs
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