Toyota-Panasonic venture to build lithium ion batteries for hybrids

TOKYO — A joint battery venture of Toyota and Panasonic will produce lithium ion batteries for hybrid cars at a plant in western Japan starting 2022 to meet growing demand for electric vehicles.

The production line at a Panasonic factory in Tokushima prefecture will have enough capacity to build batteries for around 500,000 vehicles a year, the joint venture, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, said.

“The global electric vehicle market is expected to continue growing rapidly,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

Established in April, Prime Planet Energy is 51 percent owned by Toyota with Panasonic holding the remaining stake. The venture reflects the drive of both companies to become bigger global players in an industry vital for the development of affordable EVs.

Panasonic, one of the world’s biggest EV battery makers, faces intense competition as a battery supplier to global automakers, including Tesla. The other leading players are South Korean and Chinese makers such as Samsung SDI, LG Chem and CATL.

Toyota last month said it expects annual sales of EV vehicles to reach 5.5 million in 2025, five years earlier than initially planned.

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