Kyodo. Toyota Motor is accelerating efforts to develop a practical lithium ion battery to power hybrid motor vehicles in a bid to reinforce its presence in the market for the environment-friendly cars.
The project will be led by Panasonic EV Energy, a joint venture between Toyota and Matsushita Electric Industrial, as part of Toyota’s program to develop a smaller, more powerful hybrid vehicle. (Earlier post.) Toyota recently increased its stake in Panasonic EV to 60%, making it a subsidiary. (Earlier post.)
Panasonic EV is the supplier of the nickel metal-hydride (NiMH) battery packs for Toyota’s hybrids, as well as for Honda Civic and Insight hybrids. The company currently offers only NiMH products.
Although it is far ahead of the competition in development and sales of hybrid vehicles, Toyota hopes to further strengthen its position by developing a practical lithium ion battery.
Lithium-ion batteries offer a higher power density than NiMH—up to 4 kW/kg, double that of the best NiMH levels of 2 kW/kg.