Toyota and Panasonic to form battery joint venture

Toyota President Akio Toyoda (left) and Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga

Toyota and Panasonic on Tuesday confirmed plans for a joint-venture company responsible for production of vehicle batteries, not only to supply Toyota but also rivals.

Pending approval by regulatory authorities, which is expected to take until late 2020, the joint-venture company will be established with Toyota taking a 51-percent stake and the remainder going to Panasonic.

The new company will oversee research and development of battery technology as well as production at plants in China and Japan. Crucially, solid-state batteries were mentioned as part of the scope, alongside existing lithium-ion batteries.

Solid-state batteries, which are more stable and have greater density than today’s liquid-type batteries, are expected to be offered by Toyota early next decade.

The automaker aims to sell 1.0 million electric cars annually by 2030, including both battery- and fuel cell-powered models. Toyota also wants to sell 4.5 million hybrid vehicles by that date, so it’s clear it will have a great need for batteries in the near future.

Approximately 3,500 existing staff from Toyota and Panasonic will be assigned to the new company. By working together, Toyota will be able to leverage Panasonic’s expertise at mass production of batteries and its existing customer base, while Panasonic will be able to benefit from Toyota’s research into solid-state batteries and market data related to hybrids and electric cars.

Tuesday’s announcement follows a similar announcement made by Toyota in 2017, where the automaker said it would form a joint-venture company with Mazda and Japanese supplier Denso focused on developing EV technology for passenger cars, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

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