Toyota mulling battery production for EVs with Panasonic

Toyota Motor Corp is mulling producing batteries for electric vehicles (EV) with Panasonic Corp as it boosts battery development to help meet its goal for green cars to make up half of global sales by 2030.

Toyota already has an existing agreement under which Panasonic makes automotive lithium-ion batteries for Toyota's petrol-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The agreement for greater cooperation on batteries comes as competition among automakers to develop more EVs conforming to stricter regulations worldwide to cut vehicle emissions, increases.

According to commentators, Toyota's battery needs will likely increase after it said last year it would add fully electric vehicles to its product line-up in the early 2020s, as it expands a green-car strategy focused on plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles (FCV).

''The auto industry faces many hurdles to developing next-generation batteries which are difficult for automakers or battery makers to tackle on their own,'' Toyota president Akio Toyoda said at a joint 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.''

Toyoda said Toyota is targeting annual sales of 4.5 million vehicles for petrol-electric and plug-in hybrids by 2030, and 1.0 million units for EVs and FCVs.

''Electrification is a major part of the once-a-century transformation taking place in the auto industry now,'' Toyoda told reporters in Tokyo yesterday.

''In order to make ever-better cars, we need to collaborate with a specialized battery manufacturer.''

He added that the safety of EV batteries remained an ''pressing issue''.

Toyota has stepped up electric car development amid a boom this year after initially betting on hydrogen to power its zero-emission vehicles.

Toyota has plans to introduce electric models by 2020 in China and India, where it is partnering with Suzuki Motor Corp.