July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Panasonic Corp. may build homes in Japan with power-saving devices on sites of factories it closed as the appliance maker looks to tap demand for energy-efficient products after the March 11 earthquake.
Homes in so-called smart towns, where Panasonic plans to sell to consumers directly, may include solar panels, energy- efficient refrigerators and rechargeable batteries, Teruhisa Noro, a director for Panasonic’s systems and equipment business promotion division, said in an interview yesterday.
The plans are part of Panasonic’s effort to expand business built on energy-related products and to cut its reliance on television sales, as intensified competition erodes prices. Japan’s worst earthquake and tsunami cut power supplies across the country and boosted demand for energy-saving devices.
“There is a noticeable increase in interest for houses and equipment that can generate and save energy since the March 11 disaster,” said Noro. “We’re getting inquiries from municipal and government agencies about our projects.”
The Osaka-based company will probably base the latest project on one in Fujisawa, southwest of Tokyo, where Panasonic is building 1,000 homes in a former factory site, Noro said.
Sales from the energy-efficient homes and buildings may reach at least 100 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in the year ending March 2013, President Fumio Ohtsubo said in May. The annual revenue may triple two years after that, he said.
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The homes could be built on sites of factories Panasonic closed to cut costs. Panasonic, the nation’s largest maker of home appliances, announced plans to shut about 20 percent of its 230 factories two years ago after the worst global recession eroded earnings.
Panasonic plans to offer low-priced houses through its home-building affiliate in the Tohoku region, which was hit by the earthquake and tsunami, Noro said.
The company may also build residential blocks equipped with some of its energy-saving products such as solar panels in India, where the company plans to build a new plant, he said.
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