Panasonic and Toyota to set up JV for prismatic batteries

Details of the joint venture plan could officially be released for public consumption as early as this week.

As per a source familiar with the matter at hand, Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp are slated to launch a joint venture to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV).

The joint venture, in which Toyota will have majority stake of 51%, could also provide batteries to Toyota’s EV technology partners Mazda Corp and Subaru Corp, said the source on the condition of anonymity since the joint venture discussions are still private.

The joint venture will build on their 2017 agreement in which they they aimed to build newer generation batteries with higher energy density in a prismatic cell arrangement.

Toyota’s spokesman said both companies have been working on the battery partnership that was announced in 2017 and declined to comment further.

Panasonic made the same comment in a statement.

As per the source, both companies could announce the joint venture plan as early as this week.

The battery joint venture will help Toyota achieve an annual sales target of around 1 million zero-emission battery EVs and fuel-cell vehicles (FCVs) by 2030.

The joint venture will give Panasonic cost and scale advantages in battery production. The development comes at a time when China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology has come to be on par with the long-time industry leader on the back of the rapidly growing home market.

Incidentally, Panasonic, the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla Inc’s current production models, could potentially reduce its reliance on Tesla and expand its supply market beyond that of just Tesla. Tesla’s production delays have previously weighed on Panasonic’s earnings.

As per a tweet from Elon Musk in November 2018 Tesla’s CEO said, Tesla’s new plant in Shanghai would source its batteries “most likely from several companies” including Panasonic.

Under its planned joint venture with Toyota, Panasonic will shift most of its prismatic battery-related equipment and facilities in Japan and China to the joint venture, while its facilities which produce batteries for Tesla will remain under the company.

Significantly, while Panasonic makes cylindrical batteries of a type similar to those used in laptops for Tesla, it already makes prismatic batteries for Toyota.

It is not yet clear how Panasonic will supply its prismatic batteries to other automotive clients, which includes Ford Motor and Honda Motor.

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