Report: Toyota and Panasonic make an electric car battery spinoff company

  A Toyota Prius battery
Enlarge / This image taken on June 5, 2009, shows Toyota Motors' third-generation Prius hybrid battery module shown at Panasonic's EV Energy headquarters in Kosei, Aichi, prefecture.

According to Nikkei Asian Review Toyota Motors and Panasonic have agreed to establish a joint venture company to produce car batteries, while Toyota owns 51[ads1] percent of the company and Panasonic owns 49 percent.

Ars Technica contacted both companies to confirm the report, and we update this story if we hear back.

Nikkei reports that Panasonic will transfer ownership of five battery factories in Japan and China to the joint venture. The joint venture would start operations "in the early 2020s" and it would start producing "50-fold-capacity batteries for those now used in hybrid cars, with the aim of reducing production costs through higher volumes", according to Nikkei. [19659004] The news release also said that the joint venture would be used to push the technology used in solid state batteries. Solid state batteries are not yet available in commercial production, but they are theoretically lighter, safer and have a more competitive energy density than existing lithium-ion batteries. Toyota has been working on such solid state battery research for years. In 2017, Wall Street Journal reported that Toyota was working on "production technology" for a solid-state electric car battery, which it hoped to commercialize by 2022.

Panasonic has extensive experience in mass production of new battery technology, including through a partnership on the massive Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada. So from Toyota's point of view, a partnership with Panasonic can be a way for the automaker to jump into solid-state battery production. Toyota has made significant advances in the hybrid car market, but when it comes to battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), the company has been behind other companies.

The Toyota management has historically favored hydrogen fuel cell cars as the future. Just last week, Toyota's Fuel Cell system development manager, Katsuhiko Hirose, told The Drive that he expects fuel cell vehicles to eventually become cheaper than gasoline-powered cars and be more universally practical than battery-powered vehicles.

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