Toyota and Panasonic confirm EV battery joint venture

by Tom Morgan, Autocar UK 24 Jan 2019


Toyota and Panasonic have confirmed plans to set up a joint venture to produce batteries for electric cars.

The collaboration, which will begin by the end of 2020, will see the two companies transfer up to 3500 employees, and Panasonic relocate its manufacturing facilities in Japan and China. The batteries produced by the joint venture will be sold to multiple car manufacturers.

Neither company has revealed how much capital is being invested, but confirmed that the venture would be 51 percent controlled by Toyota.

Toyota and Panasonic have worked together since 1953, and as recently as 2017 struck an initial partnership to produce lithium-ion batteries. Panasonic is already the exclusive battery cell supplier to Tesla, but its batteries are already widely used across the automotive industry in EVs, including various hybrid models produced by Toyota.

A crucial aspect of the venture is considering how to make supply stable amid growing fears of shortages and concerns around the ethics of collecting the required elements to make the batteries. It is for this reason that the partnership aims to aid the proliferation of EVs globally, rather than simply Toyota or Lexus hybrids and EVs.

“Together with Panasonic, we want to hone our competitiveness in batteries, one of the core technologies of electrified vehicles,” Toyota Executive Vice-President Shigeki Terashi said. “By contributing to the popularisation of Toyota’s and other auto makers’ electrified vehicles, we want to help find solutions to issues such as global warming and environment and energy-related challenges.”

The announcement follows an earlier agreement to study the feasibility of the two companies working together on the production of prismatic batteries for the automotive industry, and will aim to further develop next-generation solid-state batteries as the technology picks up pace in several areas of the industry, due to a potential higher capacity that would be suited to longer-range electric vehicles.

 “Panasonic is a leading company in the area of automotive batteries. I think it was fate for us to come together to work for this collaboration. We would like to offer opportunities to work together with other companies with the collaboration for the realisation of automotive prismatic batteries,” said Toyota boss Akio Toyoda.