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Toyota and Matsushita Deepen Ties Over Hybrid Batteries

Nikkei. Toyota Motor Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. have entered into a cross-shareholding relationship as they increase their collaboration on batteries for hybrid vehicles.

In 1996, Toyota and Matsushita jointly established Panasonic EV Energy Co., which manufactures the NiMH batteries for Toyota hybrid electric vehicles and is developing lithium-ion cells for the next generation.

Toyota plans to triple its current worldwide hybrid sales to more than 1 million annually by the early 2010s. Panasonic EV is ramping up accordingly.

In the year ended 31 March 31, Toyota spent some ¥40 billion (US$326 million) to acquire 20.7 million shares, or an 0.84% interest, in Matsushita. Matsushita invested tens of billions of yen to boost its Toyota stake. It reported holding 0.57% of the automaker’s outstanding stock, or 20.42 million shares.

Nissan and NEC Corp. have also formed an alliance, as has Mitsubishi with GS Yuasa.



There's something funny going on at Panasonic EV. It seems they've been a little rattled by something.

It was claimed that they were trying to make cobalt based lithium-ion work for vehicles (hard to believe). Have they had the frighteners put on them by A123 and Altair showing dramatically more advanced batteries? I suspect they will be currently diverting all power to the nanotech initiative before GM manages to beat them to it.

Travis Rassat

I thought the same thing, clett. When Toyota announced the delay of lithium-ion batteries in their cars, I couldn't help but think that having connections to only one battery manufacturer could be a bit limiting and maybe they had missed an opportunity.

Kevin Frieden

I think this is a terrific model for the automotive industry. Imagine a merger of Firefly(wholly owned by Caterpillar) and Chrysler. After Daimler spins-off Chrysler; they should be much more nimble. A world of 2 and 3 ton PHEVs (nobody really wants in Insight do they) that cost as much or less than a comparable ICE only auto.


I don't want and can't use an Insight (2 kids) but I definitely don't want a bumbling 2-3 ton vehicle either. I like a vehicle where I can enjoy driving, not be disconnected from driving by emulating a rolling living room [though the Japanese used to do that with their minivans complete with chandeliers & coffee table].

We get all of our batteries from Panasonic and nearly every single one of our products has been swapped over to Lithium Ion...Safety? you can easily get Factory Mutual Intrinsically Safe and MSHA approvals for Panasonic batteries with appropriate circuitry.


It is always surprising that these large engineering firms sometimes forget the value of second and third source materials. Especially with new technology where there are a lot of players, huge stakes and breakneck R&D. It is apparent that Toyota has safety concerns about their Li batteries and seems to have gotten stuck with a single source supplier.

Diversity is a key to many successful systems, mechanical and biological. One day we will discover that even our old nemesis carbon has new world applications far exceeding present day concerns. We don't eliminate causes of imbalance - we re-balance them.


I don't know about you but I'm pleased that all this activity in battery development for mass electric transportation is going on. The competition is healthy; just hope that one of the large operators in the auto and/or oil segments doesn't buy up and control the patents to slow development down.

As a reader of GCC you know that the auto and oil companies have large R and D investments in diesel technology and are pushing pump dispensed diesel and biodiesel. That appears to be the next push into the American market. Indeed, Honda has already announced the diesel Accord and I expect other companies to announce their diesels as well.

Just remember: He who controls the pumps, controls the price thereon. The PHEV comes close; however, only the BEV offers freedom from the pump. This I think explains the oil industry's concern and bias against large advanced batteries. It, simply put, cuts into their huge profits.

Travis Rassat

"This I think explains the oil industry's concern and bias against large advanced batteries. It, simply put, cuts into their huge profits."

Maybe I'm naive, but this is why I think the big oil companies need to start redefining themselves as "energy companies" and start investing in non-oil technologies (assuming they aren't doing it to kill the technology), as a long-term investment. I'd like to see more of that, such as BP and their solar panels. Perhaps an oil company could get behind battery technologies or would that be dangerous?


Very dangerous.  Cobasys (controlled by Chevron) killed the large-format NiMH for the US market, and forced Toyota to abandon the RAV-4 EV.


Some misconceptions here. Panasonic is not the only battery supplier for Toyota. Toyota is also doing it's own in-house battery R & D, and Toyota is connected to Fuji Heavy Industries, which also has expertise in battery technology. Panasonic is also a world leader in battery technology, so it would be foolish to dismiss them or to take them lightly. Toyota working with Panasonic and FHI in parallel will lead to some breakthrough battery developments.

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