Japanese giants team up to build batteries, battle China and Tesla

Toyota wants to make it big in an all-electric world. [Photo: testing/Shutterstock]

Carmaker Toyota and electronics titan Panasonic will pool resources and build electric vehicle batteries together as of 2020, according to sources familiar with the planned joint venture.

Japanese news agency Nikkei reported that the two firms will make an announcement this week, expanding the technology partnership signed in 2017.

Toyota, which will control 51% of the venture, aims to build 1 million electric and next-generation vehicles by 2030 and compete with the likes of Nissan, whose Leaf market-leader is currently the top-selling electric car in Europe.

In 2018, the Japanese company sold more than 40,000 Leafs in Europe, 12,000 of which ended up on Norway’s streets and roads.

Although Toyota’s experience of the hybrid market, thanks to the Prius, is significant, it has fallen behind its rivals in the race to dominate the full electric scene.

Panasonic will bring immense battery knowledge and resources with it to the venture, transferring five factories to the new company. Improved capacity and charging times are two of the goals.

One reported target is to mass produce batteries that have 50 times the capacity of current hybrid vehicles.

The company is currently the exclusive battery cell supplier for Elon Musk’s Tesla enterprise but the US firm is set to start sourcing technology from other companies, particularly in China.

Teaming up with Toyota will mean that Panasonic will no longer have to deal with Tesla’s production backlog, as the joint venture is due to supply batteries to partners like Mazda and Subaru. Honda, which also uses Panasonic tech, is also expected to use the results of the partnership.

Edited by Samuel Stolton

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