Tesla Cheats with New Battery Supplier, Panasonic Forecast Plunges

Panasonic wasted no time lowering its guidance after its bread-and-butter customer, Tesla, announced it was buying another battery supplier to power its electric vehicles.

The lucky company Tesla chose to replace Japan-based Panasonic is California-based Maxwell Technologies.

On the news, Panasonic lowered its profit expectations by 9%. The possible loss of Tesla isn’t the only culprit that led to the lowered guidance. The struggling tech player revealed it was also being hurt by weak demand in China for auto components and factory equipment. China’s slowing economy and the overhang of trade wars have weighed on countries and tech companies all over the world.

Musk Praised Panasonic Just Three Months Ago

Back in November, it appeared that the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic was going well. CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to sing the praises about Panasonic helping it boost profits.

Here’s the tweet.

However, Musk had other plans. CCN raised the caution flag on Panasonic last month. We pointed to Tesla’s November indication that it would diversify its sources after experiencing several problems with its Model 3 supply chain.

On the heels of that announcement, rumors swirled that Tesla was on the lookout for a new battery supplier.

In previous reports, CCN noted that Panasonic was also feeling the effects of the possibility of losing Tesla. Its stock price was down by more than 2% on the news that the carmaker was looking for a new supplier.

Tesla Giveth Then Taketh Away

Elon Musk | Source: Shutterstock

Interestingly, when this supply agreement was announced, Tesla stated:

“The agreement supplies Tesla with Panasonic’s lithium-ion battery cells to build more than 80,000 vehicles over the next four years. It guarantees the availability of enough cells in 2012 to meet Tesla’s aggressive production ramp-up and fulfillment of more than 6,000 existing Model S reservations. This supply agreement helps ensure Tesla will meet its cost and margin targets for Model S.”

The purchase of Maxwell Technologies comes less than a decade since Musk and company inked the deal with Panasonic. The electric vehicle maker had lauded Panasonic as being a battery cell manufacturer and a diverse supplier to the global automotive industry.

Musk’s Always Up To Something, Could Be Good This Time

The move is a disappointing one for Panasonic, but it’s a solid one for Tesla, which has been under financial pressure.

In January, CCN reported that Tesla enjoyed a solid Q4 2018 with record production and delivery numbers driving the company’s first profit in two years. The company posted a net profit of $311.5 million and $891 million in free cash flow. However, the company’s stock price slumped 9% after it failed to meet investor targets for delivery and production numbers.

Tesla’s stock price has traded wildly over the past several months.

Owning battery supplier Maxwell should help the company lower its operating costs. The heavily indebted electric car company, whose CFO stepped down just four days ago, is making the acquisition in an all-stock deal.

A Tesla stock shorter (Musk has extreme disdain for them) responded to the Maxwell announcement with this tweet.

Maxwell already supplies batteries to General Motors and Volkswagen subsidiary Lamborghini. Specifically, it provides so-called ultracapacitors that store electricity and complement battery cells.


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Author: Tedra DeSue 
Image Credit: Featured Image from Shutterstock

MIT Scientists Score Breakthrough in Finding Bacteria That Produce Electricity

Deeps in mines, at the bottom of lakes, and even in your own gut, bacteria are hard at work producing electricity in order to survive in environments low in oxygen.

These potent little power producers have been used in speculative experiments and one day may power everything from batteries to “biohomes“.

There are many types of bacteria capable of producing electricity, but some are better at it than others. The trouble with these bacteria is that they are difficult and expensive to grow in a lab setting, slowing down our ability to develop new technologies with them.

A new technique developed by MIT engineers makes sorting and identifying electricity-producing bacteria easier than ever before which may make them more readily available for us in technological applications.

Electricity-producing bacteria are able to pull off the trick by producing electrons within their cells and releasing them through tiny channels in their cell membranes in a process called extracellular electron transfer, or EET.

Current processes for identifying the electricity producing capabilities of bacteria involved measuring the activity of EET proteins but this is a daunting and time consuming process.

Researchers sometimes use a process called dielectrophoresis to separate two kinds of bacteria based on their electrical properties. They can use this process to differentiate between two different kinds of cells, such as cells from a frog and cells from a bird.

But the MIT team’s study separated cells based on a much more minute difference, their ability to produce electricity.

By applying small voltages to bacteria strains in an hourglass-shaped microfluidic channel the team was able to separate and measure the different kinds of closely related cells.

By noting the voltage required to manipulate bacteria and recording the cell’s size researchers were able to calculate each bacteria’s polarizability – how easy it is for a cell to produce electricity in an electric field.

Their study concluded that bacteria with a higher polarizability were also more active electricity producers.

Next the team will begin testing bacteria already thought to be strong candidates for future power production.

If their observations on polarizability hold true for these other bacteria, this new technique could make electricity-producing bacteria more accessible than ever before.


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Author: JACOB BANAS
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