Toyota is using Tesla-like Panasonic batteries for its plug-in hybrids in China, meaning cylindrical cells. Still, the batteries are said to differ from Tesla’s, at least in their composition.
Reuters in its report cites insiders saying the Toyota cells are in the same format, but with a different chemical composition than Panasonic cells for Tesla. The news agency did not state, however, whether these are the 18650 cells from the Model S and X batteries or the newer 2170 cells that Tesla uses in Model 3. The differences in cell chemistry are also not specified.
Toyota uses cylindrical Panasonic cells for the PHEV versions of the Corolla and Levin. One of the sources stated that Toyota had developed the new cells jointly with Panasonic for several years. Toyota declined to comment. A Panasonic spokeswoman said the company, as a supplier was unable to comment as well.
In January, Toyota and Panasonic announced their intention to set up a battery development joint venture. The Japanese business paper Nikkei reported at the time that the joint venture was to be established in 2020 and that Toyota would hold 51 per cent and Panasonic 49 per cent of the shares. Back then, however, they were to concentrate on improving prismatic cells as well as beginning to look into solid-state batteries.
Toyota is already using Panasonic cells for some of its hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, although these are mostly prismatic cells. Tesla is one of the few electric carmakers to rely exclusively on round cells, while German carmakers, for example, also rely on prismatic cells and pouch cells.
Over the past few months, Toyota has made major changes to its drive strategy and is now increasingly focusing on battery-electric cars. In the course of the new electric offensive, the Japanese have entered into a partnership with the Chinese battery group CATL and have also agreed to work with China’s BYD on electric car production.