Toyota Juicing Up Battery Production

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
toyota juicing up battery production

Automotive News (sub) reports that Toyota is investing $673m in new Japanese battery facilities, with the goal of building one million batteries per year by 2011. A new nickel-metal hydride plant is planned for northern Japan, and a new lithium-ion plant will be built southwest of Tokyo. They're also adding to an existing metal-hydride facility as Toyota expands operations to meet the million hybrid vehicles per year demand it expects in the next decade. Toyota's batteries are built by Panasonic EV Energy Co, a joint venture between Panasonic and Toyota. Details are not currently available for the two new plants, but once expanded, the existing metal-hydride plant will build 300k batteries per year. Reports indicate that lithium-ion production will not exceed the tens of thousands, indicating that Toyota will continue to rely on its proven metal-hydride technology for most hybrid applications. With Nissan jumping into lithium-ion production, and Honda announcing an increased hybrid lineup, Toyota's investment is a necessary step in building on its enviable lead in hybrid production. With about 430k hybrids sold last year, and sales of the gas-electric whips rising at a steady clip, Toyota should have few problems selling a million hybrids annually within the next five years.

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  • EJ_San_Fran EJ_San_Fran on May 23, 2008

    Interesting. It seems Toyota is very happy with their NiMH batteries. They should accelerate their hybrid program. The way gas prices are going, pretty much everybody wants a hybrid these days.

  • The Luigiian The Luigiian on May 23, 2008

    I like Toyota's hybrid cars, and I'm glad to hear they're gearing up to make more of them. My family has always stayed buying American, more specifically Fords. But if Toyota keeps on making good decisions and ramping up hybrid tech, I'm going to want a Toyota as my next car. I'd go with a Prius, sure, but I really like the A-BAT truck concept. I remember, one rainy trip to the mountains last year, I decided optimum conditions for a fuel efficient crew-cab truck would be a four-foot bed with midgate, four-cylinder (possibly hybrid) with a really small engine compartment, and maybe four-wheel drive. And damned if Toyota didn't take my idea, down to every dimension, and build their little concept truck just like I wanted. Sure, it's not a real looker (just look at the pictures at Autoblog here) but I can't argue with the fact that Toyota's on the right track in making a hybrid truck a la the RAV-4 (and you thought soft-roaders would never catch on). If Toyota made it $22K with 35 mpg, I would definitely try to convince my union-manager uncle and pro-union family to let me buy one. Considering that all trucks are made in North America, it might not be too tough.

  • John Horner John Horner on May 24, 2008

    Meanwhile, GM spent over $800M buying Detroit area real estate.

  • Thoots Thoots on May 24, 2008

    Yep, Company A makes an important investment in what HAS to be a significant part of the future of the automobile. Meanwhile, Company B continues to prove it has its head up its ass. It'd be unbelievable if it didn't happen on a daily basis....