The battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, is building up capacity to produce batteries for hybrid vehicles. The joint venture is installing a production line for prismatic lithium-ion batteries.
The joint venture launched early this year, will establish the new line in the existing Panasonic factory in the Japanese region of Tokushima. Scheduled to go into operation in 2022, Prime Planet Energy & Solutions is looking to manufacture batteries for around 500,000 hybrid vehicles per year there. This is the first concrete project of the joint venture, which was announced in 2019.
Prime Planet Energy & Solutions aims to develop new improved prismatic cells. The company also intends to work on solid-state batteries for electric cars and will not only supply Toyota, but also third parties. In earlier reports, Japanese car manufacturers Mazda, Daihatsu, Subaru and possibly Honda were mentioned as potential customers.
With this move, Toyota is further strengthening its focus on hybrids while the Japanese company created a joint venture with the Chinese electric vehicle giant BYD to focus on battery electric vehicles. Not to be accused of being shy of the transport transition off fossil fuels, in other areas Toyota has been focussing on fuel cell applications in trains and trucks, for example.
Prime Planet says of the move that: “As electrification of automobiles is a must in tackling environmental issues such as global warming and air pollution, the global electric vehicle market is expected to continue growing rapidly. This expansion in production capability is a step that allows Prime Planet Energy & Solutions to handle the growing demand of prismatic lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles.”
Prime Planet has two company headquarters, one in Tokyo and one in Kansai. At the beginning of the year, the battery manufacturer estimated the number of employees at around 5,100, 2,400 of whom work for a subsidiary in China. In the current press release, however, the number of employees is said to be around 5,600. Toyota holds a 51 per cent majority stake in the joint venture and with Hiroaki Koda also provides the Representative Director and President.