Toyota, Panasonic setting up EV battery JV amid rising China competition

Toyota Motor Corp and Panasonic Corp The joint venture, to be owned 51 percent by Toyota and the rest by Panasonic are set to launch a joint venture next year to produce batteries for electric vehicles.

A joint venture would build on the agreement that the pair announced in late 2017 on joint development of batteries with higher energy density in a prismatic cell arrangement. 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.

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

Panasonic is set to lose its exclusivity as Tesla plans to source cell production locally at a new auto plant in Shanghai, “most likely from several companies” including Panasonic, Elon Musk, Tesla chief executive, tweeted in November.

Under the planned joint venture, Panasonic would shift most of its prismatic battery-related equipment and facilities in Japan and China to the joint venture, while those producing batteries for Tesla will remain under the company, the source said.

Panasonic already makes prismatic batteries for Toyota, whereas for Tesla it makes cylindrical batteries of a type similar to those used in laptops. It’s not clear yet how Panasonic would supply its prismatic batteries to other automotive clients, which include Honda Motor and Ford.