By on January 22, 2019

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Already a pioneer in hybrid drive technology, Toyota’s recent push towards fully electric cars has birthed a joint venture with one of the world’s premier battery makers, potentially opening up a massive revenue stream for the automaker.

On Tuesday, the company announced the creation of a joint venture with Panasonic to supply other automakers with a “stable supply of competitive batteries.”

Pending various approvals, the two companies hope to have the operation up and running by the end of 2020. Toyota’s stake is 51 percent; Panasonic, 49 percent. The two companies first announced their intention to explore a joint venture in late 2017.

“The scope of the joint venture’s business operations will cover research, development, production engineering, manufacturing, procurement, order receipt, and management related to automotive prismatic lithium-ion batteries, solid-state batteries, and next-generation batteries,” the companies stated in a joint release.

“Toyota will transfer equipment and personnel to the joint venture in the areas of development and production engineering related to battery cells. Panasonic will transfer equipment, other assets, liabilities, personnel, and other items to the joint venture in the areas of development, production engineering, manufacturing (at plants in Japan and in Dalian, China), procurement, order receipt, and management functions related to the automotive prismatic battery business.”

Batteries built by the JV will still carry the Panasonic logo. In rationalizing the effort, the companies stated that the current business environment surrounding EVs “is one in which independent efforts by battery manufacturers or automobile manufacturers are not enough for solving the issues concerned.”

Of course, this isn’t the first Toyota-Panasonic battery venture. Back in 1996, the two companies teamed up for the production of nickel-metal hydride battery packs for use in hybrid vehicles, with the company eventually becoming today’s Primearth EV Energy. While Toyota was the main user of said batteries, Honda and General Motors also sourced battery packs from the Japanese supplier.

[Image: © 2018 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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13 Comments on “Get Your Batteries From Us: Toyota, Panasonic Announce Joint Venture...”


  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    No surprise here. A cell manufacturer is not going to put in place additional capacity to build billions of cells/year without some sort of guaranteed customer for that product, and a car maker isn’t going to proceed with EVs in large volume without guaranteed cell supply. These kinds of agreements are customary; this is exactly what Tesla did with Panasonic a few years ago.

  • avatar
    jatz

    So Big Battery and Big Carmaker are on board, what about Big Government to make us buy EVs?

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Smooth move. Reduces battery costs for Toyota and guarantees a steady stream of income/profit for Panasonic.

    Most likely done with the China EV market in mind.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Prismatics… carefully worded to *not* step on Tesla, who developed cylindrical cells with Panasonic.

    I predict a relatively low-volume operation.
    1. Prismatics are harder to make and harder to cool, but they package well.
    2. Selling raw cells to mfrs means you’re paying to transport heavy cells, which adds no value. Building them into packs will occur at the mfrs, so it will be harder for them to compete on cost.

  • avatar
    mcs

    Toyota has a huge number of solid-state battery patents. I’ll try to look up the patents later. Seeing Panasonic teaming up with them should definitely help get solid-state to market. Panasonic has the manufacturing expertise needed for mass production. Going from the lab to mass production is a huge and very difficult step.

  • avatar
    brn

    Toyota has a history of investing in companies so they can control supplies to their competition. I don’t see this as being any different.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Tesla is a no.
    Nissan is a no.
    GM is a no.

    That leaves a long list of fringe players (for now) in a market where what, 1% of vehicles sold are EVs?

    This seems pretty darn DOA.


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