Toyota’s partner boosts battery production

As Toyota’s battery partner increases battery output, many believe Toyota is gearing up for much higher hybrid sales next year. Panasonic EV Energy Co. plants to produce 800,000 hybrid-vehicle batteries in 2009, 95 percent of which will go to Toyota, the company said.

Toyota sold an outstanding 429,000 hybrids in 2007 and hopes to increase overall sales to 1 million units by early next decade.

Panasonic EV Energy was founded in 1996 and has been making nickel-metal hydride batteries ever since. But the company will soon switch over to lithium-ion batteries, which are expected to be used in a new plug-in hybrid by Toyota in 2010.

Still, main obstacle for lithium-ion batteries is proving reliability and durability, said Shinichi Matsumoto, project general manager of Toyota’s hybrid division.

“We are thinking battery life should be longer than the vehicle itself,” he said, or about 10 years.


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