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Panasonic churns out 100 millionth washing machine

Kyodo

Panasonic Corp. has built its 100 millionth washing machine since starting production in 1951 under the leadership of founder Konosuke Matsushita.

Its output of washing machines has accelerated since Panasonic started production in China in 1992, with the last 50 million being manufactured since 1998.

Panasonic said Thursday that its washing machines are popular in numerous areas because they are designed specifically for each region, taking into consideration size and washing method.

Production of washing machines began at its Osaka factory in September 1951 under forerunner Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., when Konosuke Matsushita ordered the production of household appliances to liberate housewives from exhausting household labor. The first models sold for ¥53,000, equivalent to seven to eight months of the average income at the time.

Washers became widespread during the boom in household appliances that started in the late 1950s and were one of the “three sacred treasures,” or must-have appliances, along with black-and-white TVs and refrigerators.

Panasonic began exporting washing machines to Singapore and Cuba in 1957. With factories in China and Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines, Panasonic currently produces more than 4.5 million a year overseas.

The company has also manufactured 350 million TVs and 80 million refrigerators globally.

Toshiba smart appliances

JIJI

Toshiba Corp. said it will launch new home appliances with functions compatible with smartphones.

A new Vegeta series refrigerator, to be released in late September, will be equipped with a camera that can take pictures of items inside and send them to a smartphone, Toshiba said Thursday. This could be used to check what foods are running low, or to monitor how an elderly relative is eating, for instance.

In November, Toshiba will release a new model in the Zaboon drum-type washing machine series that notifies the user by email when the laundry is done.

Also slated to be released in November is a new Daiseikai air conditioner that automatically adjusts the room temperature during peak energy-usage hours. It also filters pollen and PM2.5 air pollutants in the room and discharges them outside.

“We hope to boost the proportion of smartphone-compatible home appliance sales in our total sales to 20 percent in fiscal 2014 from the current level of 10 percent,” said Toshiro Ishiwatari, president of Toshiba Home Appliances Corp.