Toyota and Panasonic may create a new joint venture focused on the development of battery technology for use in electric vehicles, company execs revealed at a press conference on Wednesday.
The news follows not long after the announcement that Toyota and Mazda had created a joint venture focused on electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and is being pursued for the same reason: Toyota execs have publicly promised that “green cars” (plug-in electric + hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles) will comprise half of the company’s global sales by 2030.
That’s essentially just 12 years from now, so the company will have to grow it’s “green car” sector extremely quickly over the coming years if those goals are to be met. Also noteworthy here is that Toyota execs have also promised to bring a long-range all-electric car to market by 2020 or so.
“The auto industry faces many hurdles to developing next-generation batteries which are difficult for automakers or battery makers to tackle on their own,” stated Toyota President Akio Toyoda at the news conference. “It would be difficult for us to meet our 2030 goals given the current pace of battery development. That’s why we’re looking to Panasonic and other companies to help us develop ever-better cars and batteries.”
According to Akio Toyoda, Toyota is now targeting annual sales figures of 4.5 million for petrol-electric and plug-in hybrids by 2030, and 1 million for EVs and FCVs by 2030.
Reuters provides more: “In Panasonic, Toyota is partnering the main battery supplier of major US EV maker Tesla Inc. With a 29% market share, Panasonic is the world’s biggest supplier of batteries for plug-in hybrids and EVs, showed January-June data from Nomura Research.
“The pair plan to expand development of prismatic — flat, pouch-shaped — batteries with higher energy density. Panasonic already makes prismatic batteries for Toyota, whereas for Tesla, it makes cylindrical batteries of a type similar to those used in laptops.
Panasonic was diplomatic and didn’t crush the potential of either battery option. “Our cylindrical batteries are the most widely used batteries in pure EVs at the moment,” commented Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga. “But when you look at the future, it’s difficult to gauge which format holds more demand potential. We need to be able to develop new battery technologies in a prismatic format, and this would be difficult on our own.”
That’s an interesting comment considering the amount of money that Panasonic has put into its joint operations with Tesla. There’s nothing like hedging your bets, eh?