Not too long ago, it looked like electric automaker Tesla's days were numbered. They were about to lose the chassis supplier for their only production automobile, the Tesla Roadster, and they were burning through cash faster than a drunken sailor on shore leave. Last summer, Toyota stepped up to the plate and invested some $50 million in Tesla for their electric vehicle propulsion technology, and now battery maker Panasonic is sinking some $30 million into Tesla. In exchange, Panasonic will be the supplier of cells for Tesla's battery packs, and will receive preferential treatment over other battery suppliers.
Both manufacturers have another common goal: by pushing battery development technology, battery packs will eventually become more affordable and more energy dense. More range for less money can put electric cars closer to their gasoline counterparts, which has ongoing benefits for both companies.