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Panasonic invests $30 million in Tesla

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 7:05pm
The Associated Press

Panasonic Corp. said Thursday it has invested $30 million in Tesla Motors Inc., the U.S. maker of electric sports cars, eyeing an expansion in the global market for electric vehicles.

Panasonic, Japan's biggest home appliance maker, said it will acquire about a 2 percent stake in Tesla. Panasonic said the two firms will jointly market battery packs for electric cars.

Shares in Panasonic jumped 3.7 percent to 1,181 yen on Thursday following an announcement of the capital tie-up with Tesla.

Apart from Panasonic, Toyota Motor Corp. already has invested $50 million in the high-end electric car maker. Toyota, the world's No. 1 automaker, has also signed a $60 million contract to have Tesla help develop an electric version of Toyota's RAV4 crossover vehicle.

Tesla opened its first Asian showroom in a fashionable Tokyo neighborhood last month, hoping to woo rich buyers before eventually widening its appeal with cheaper models.

But the company has not turned a profit since it was founded in 2003, and so far Tesla has sold only about 1,000 of its high-end electric cars. It currently sells just one vehicle, the $109,000 Roadster sports car, which is popular among celebrities and performance-car enthusiasts.

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