Panasonic EV Energy Co. Hints at Toyota’s Hybrid Ambitions

By Chris Haak

02.26.2008

Toyota’s nickel-metal hydride battery supplier, Panasonic EV Energy Co., is planning to produce about 800,000 batteries for hybrid vehicles in 2009. The company sells 95% of its output to Toyota, which means that Toyota is expecting to build at least 760,000 hybrid vehicles next year. This would be an increase of 77% over Toyota’s 2007 global hybrid production of 429,000 units.

If Toyota keeps up its march toward greater quantities of hybrid production, it should be able to reach its goal of selling 1 million hybrids by the early part of the next decade.

The supplier is a joint venture between Toyota and Matsushita Electric Industrial company and was founded in 1996. Although it currently produced nickel-metal hydride batteries, it will soon provide Toyota with next-generation lithium ion batteries (expected to be used by a plug-in hybrid starting around 2010). The struggle with the lithium ion batteries is longevity, but the general manager of Toyota’s hybrid division wants the battery life to exceed 10 years once development is complete.

A reliable battery supply for hybrid production has proven to be one of the elements of the supply chain that can put a crimp on production. To that end, other Japanese automakers have also developed arrangements with battery manfuacturers. Nissan is working with NEC, Honda is working with Sanyo, and Mitsubishi is working with GS Yuasa Corporation in a joint venture that will make lithium ion batteries. Rapidly increasing battery demand has caused other hybrid manufacturers (such as Ford and GM) and electric vehicle aspirants (such as GM with the hyped Chevy Volt) to seek their own reliable supplies as well.

Should Toyota’s hybrid plans pan out, they may continue the company’s growth trajectory of recent years. While many European manufacturers have staked their claim in the diesel world to conserve fuel, Toyota’s actions are clearly indicative of its continued focus on hybrid drivetrains instead.

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Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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3 Comments

  1. If Toyota has al of this great battery technology, then why are they moving so slowly on a plug-in hybrid?

  2. Uploader, it’s because the plug-in technology is not ready for prime-time yet. Toyota is not going to put out anything that is not just as dependable as their other production cars.

  3. in an other news, Toyota will plan to bring a flex-fuel version for the Sequoia and the Tundra who’ll have it for the 2009 model year to use E85 fuel. What could happen if those flex-fuel version got more successeful then Toyota taught? Will they push them to offer a flex-fuel versions of the Corolla (who’s already available in a flex-fuel version in Brazil) or the Camry forcing to put less emphasis on the hybrids?

    There was also this French article from 2004 where Toyota and Shell tested some Avensis using diesel GTL, a diesel extracted from natural gas who’s more cleaner then the conventionnal diesel or “petro-diesel”, imagine a blend of “gas-diesel”(or “GTL-diesel” with some proportions of biodiesel, the results was good but I guess the hybrids steal the show.

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