advertisement
Yoshihiko Yamada
Most Creative People 2017

Yoshihiko Yamada

Corporate Adviser, Panasonic

For making the Gigafactory go

Previously the CEO of Pan­asonic’s North American operations, Yoshihiko Yamada now works as the company’s liaison to Tesla; the two businesses have partnered on a $5 billion battery plant that they estimate will have an annual production capacity of 35 gigawatt-hours by 2020. Yamada spent a year working with Tesla to hammer out such things as financials, facility design, technical specifications, build location (they settled on a site near Reno, Nevada), and overcoming ingrained cultural differences. “Tesla acts very quickly and top-down, and it always takes financial risks to be first,” he says. “Panasonic, on the other hand, is a 100-year-old Japanese corporation that’s relatively conser­vative.” Yamada pushed for constant contact between the two teams, which fostered trust and forced them to operate at the same speed. In January 2016, less than four years after Tesla CEO Elon Musk first explored the collaboration, the Gigafactory began mass-producing lithium-ion battery cells to keep up with Tesla’s growing portfolio of energy products, such as the Powerwall and Powerpack, plus the hotly anticipated Model 3 sedan. “I thought Giga­factory was a crazy idea [at first],” Yamada says with a laugh. “But when I saw the enthusiasm for the Model 3—[almost] 400,000 customers made deposits last year—that really convinced me [Elon was right].”

Read More
advertisement
advertisement