Panasonic exits VRLA market

We have received information from one of our suppliers that the Japanese conglomerate Panasonic decided to completely exit the valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) accumulator market. This decision comes after first phasing-out all 12V accumulators rated less than 20 Ah last year, now it has been confirmed the corporate to cease manufacturing of all VRLA models by the end of this year with last deliveries in 2022.

Lead-acid accumulators are with humanity well over one and half century, then Panasonic Energy Company (PEC) started manufacturing of their own in 1931. Even despite all the hype and propaganda about lithium and other accumulators, reality shows the VRLA is pretty much noninterchangeable in way too many areas of use with no alternative on the horizon (which only makes sense when the technology has been with us for so long). That is the reason why VRLA market is still growing and will very much likely continue to do so. Considering this, the actual reasons for Panasonic exiting the market are quite unclear as the company not only has quite large market share in this area, but they also invested in more production capacity in the recent years, converting some of their consumer-electronics fabs.

On top of that, their products used to be highly valued. On the other hand from our own experience in last few years, there are some questions whether Panasonic continued to hold the quality line, or began sacrificing it in the name of keeping prices on the same level. Some rumors and experience from other users tend to confirm the latter. That with constantly stiffer competition from new Chinese brands, producing insane quantities of VRLA with low margins (and pretty much no design wins for Panasonic for delivering new UPSes with quality accumulators for well over a decade now – pretty much every single UPS manufacturer on the planet sells their UPSes with only crappy El Cheapos), may have been the reason.

We can only hope the sole remaining Japanese high-volume lead-acid accumulator manufacturer, Yuasa group, will not be getting any crazy ideas anytime soon (hopefully not as that’s pretty well their only portfolio). Plus that they will manage to get most of the market share after Panasonic, when users looking after quality products will have practically the only choice in this company’s products.