I get quite a few emails asking what I think of Panasonic washing machines. It’s a good question because Panasonic have a very respected reputation for brown goods and as you can now buy Panasonic washing machines people are naturally interested in them, and wonder if they are just as good. I’m a fan of the Panasonic brand and currently have three of their products (a TV, a hard drive recorder, and a Blue-ray home cinema unit). I’ve also previously owned several of their VCR’s and cameras in the past and never had a single problem with any of them.
However, in the UK their washing machines were only launched in 2009, and there are only a few models to choose from so far so there’s not much of a track record on white goods yet. There’s not much data for how reliable they are, or how satisfied customers are, so it’s early days for Panasonic washing machines. It’s highly likely they will be striving to carve an equally good reputation for white goods though.
Any new brand of washing machine has an uphill struggle to become established in an overcrowded market especially against names that have been producing white goods in the UK for many decades. I can’t help feeling there are already too many washing machine brands to chose from (even though many are owned by the same handful of manufacturers) but I suppose there is always room for genuine innovation or better quality if that proves to be what’s on offer.
Panasonic seem to be pitched in the mid price range competing with the likes of LG or AEG so I would judge their washing machines against those brands and ask, what’s different about them? What are Panasonic offering that AEG and LG aren’t?
Which? have reviewed the few Panasonic washing machine models produced so far and they appear to be impressed with their energy and water efficiency (Panasonic’s new white goods have received endorsement from the Energy Saving Trust) but not so much with wash results. Here are the models they’ve reviewed.
Ultimately, as newcomers to the white goods market (at least in the UK) Panasonic have got to prove themselves. They do have an excellent reputation on brown goods products so it would be crazy of them to produce sub standard white goods to sully their name. On the other hand, can we afford to just assume anything they make will be excellent? Washing machines are very different to a TV, reliability is much harder to achieve because they are far more mechanical and have many moving parts.
If I turn it around and imagine what I’d think if AEG or Hoover started making TV’s it would seem pretty strange. LG made the transition well before Panasonic and sell both brown and white goods in the UK. However, even after several years they are still very much a newcomer in white goods, and haven’t taken too much of the market from the old established white goods manufacturers. At the end of the day moving to a completely new field of products such as moving from brown to white goods may take a good few years to get right.
An important aspect of selling white goods is a good supply of spare parts and technical information to the trade as well as a good quality aftersales network to cover the guarantee period. White goods, particularly washing machines break down much more often and need a lot more spare parts. Newcomers can take a long time to get these right, especially from a background of brown goods, and my sources tell me spares and technical information can be difficult to get for these brands. Only time will tell, but aftersales is a vital consideration when buying product likely to require some in the future unless you are content to get as long as you can out of something (with fingers crossed) and throw it away when it breaks down.