After Toyota and Panasonic first announced plans a year ago to extend their partnership to the development of new EV batteries with improved prismatic cells, the cornerstones of the future joint venture have now become public.
The Japanese business paper Nikkei reports that the joint venture is to be founded in 2020 and that Toyota will hold 51 per cent and Panasonic 49 per cent of the shares.
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The venture should also enable the partners to supply batteries to other manufacturers such as Mazda, Daihatsu, Subaru and possibly also Honda. In addition, Panasonic and Toyota want to cooperate in the development of solid-state batteries and the recycling of used batteries. According to the report mentioned above, an official announcement is planned for the next few days.
Panasonic is expected to move five battery manufacturing facilities in Japan and China to the new company. The Gigafactory 1 in Nevada will remain unaffected and will continue to be the exclusive property of Panasonic and Tesla.
Rather than competing in the US, the Japanese duo aims to make their battery business more cost-effective and more comprehensive, thus being able to hold ground against emerging Chinese companies in a key area for the future of the automotive industry. Battery costs have proven to be a big hurdle to Toyota’s goal of roughly tripling annual sales of electrified vehicles to 5.5 million by 2030, but the carmaker hopes to overcome this through the joint venture with Panasonic.
In the early 2020s, Toyota and Panasonic intend to produce batteries with 50 times the capacity of today’s hybrid vehicles, while keeping production costs low through higher unit numbers.
Update 22 January 2019: Toyota has now issued a press release that in essence confirms the Nikkei report. The press release includes a statement by Panasonic Senior Managing Executive Officer Masahisa Shibata: “Uniting with Toyota’s battery and production-engineering technologies provides us with an excellent opportunity for being able to evolve our automotive prismatic batteries.”