By Patrick Avenell

Panasonic yesterday expanded its home appliance range with the launch of a targeted range of bottom mount refrigerators. Positioned at the mid-market and likely to compete with Samsung, LG and Fisher & Paykel at the retail level, the Japanese company will again use its environmental credentials to sell the benefits of this range.

In direct contrast to its strategy in the Audio Visual categories, where Panasonic has TVs in all shapes, sizes and technologies, there are only three models in the Panasonic range, each available in white or stainless steel, for six stockkeeping units (SKUs) in total. All six are bottom mount units, a sub-category worth just under $200 million and growing slightly, indicating that Panasonic believes there will be stimulation in this sector.

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Introducing the new range, product marketing manager Prue Sheehan reiterated Panasonic’s ‘eco ideas’ mantra, which involves the introduction of so-called ‘Econavi’ technology into the refrigerators.

“As a new entrant it is important that we stand out from the rest,” Sheehan said. “These [features] are innovative energy saving features that automatically help Australians slash their electricity bill; our fresh food technology that helps keep food and vegetables tasting great; and our range of sizes, styles and prices that will suit a variety of households.”

Some of these Econavi features include sensors to analyse usage to adapt the fridge to the users’ lifestyles; remembering when the fridge door is most regularly opened and adjusting temperatures accordingly; and an inverter motor, which Sheehan said “delivered the most efficient cooling power”.

Inside the refrigerators is a dedicated chilling drawer that can be set to “around 0° Celsius” to keep tomatoes moist and lettuce crisp, while there is also a noticeably spacious freezer drawer. All the fridges are designed for ambidextrous opening with right-sided hinges (as you face the appliance).

Panasonic quotes an internal shelving strength of up to 100 kilograms, while users will have LED lighting to help them see where they have placed the vegemite and peanut butter, assuming they refrigerate those two spreads. All models carry 3-star energy ratings.

The following price and description grid was provided by Panasonic Australia. All models will be available in late June.

NR-BY552XSAU 554L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless colour) — RRP $1,999
NR-BY552XWAU 554L Bottom Mount Fridge (White) — RRP $1,799
NR-BW465XSAU 465L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless colour) — RRP $1,599
NR-BW465VWAU 465L Bottom Mount Fridge (White) — RRP $1,499
NR-BW415XSAU 421L Bottom Mount Fridge (Stainless colour) — RRP $1,499
NR-BW415VWAU 421L Bottom Mount Fridge (White) — RRP $1,299

Panasonic's new 554-litre bottom mount refrigerator in stainless steel (RRP $1,999).