TOKYO -- Denso Corp., the world's No. 2 auto parts supplier, aims for a bigger stake of the global hybrid car market by standardizing its electric-gasoline drive train technology for sale to automakers other than Toyota Motor Corp. It also may begin production of lithium ion batteries.
Denso is a leader in supplying inverters, battery and engine control units, sensors and electric compressors for hybrids. Most of those sales go to Toyota, the Japanese supplier's top customer and biggest shareholder, with a 23 percent stake in Denso.
"We would like to supply our components to all customers," said Hiromi Tokuda, executive vice president in charge of R&D. The products would share underpinnings with the components made for Toyota but be tailored to the specifications of carmakers.
Denso also may start making lithium ion batteries for use in hybrid or electric vehicles. Denso has been working on lithium technology for 15 years, originally for mobile phones. It continues development for in-house testing of its other hybrid system components.
"If we can make a better battery, we would look for a chance to sell them," Tokuda told Automotive News on the sidelines of the Tokyo Motor Show.
Denso President Nobuaki Katoh said battery making is a crucial segment going ahead.
"Battery technology is one of the most important technologies for the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles," Katoh said in a separate interview. "They are such an important component that if we could manufacture them on our own, that would be great. But it's not so simple."
Tokuda declined to give a time frame for rolling out a standardized package of hybrid components, but he said it wouldn't be long.
Denso sees hybrid components as a key growth segment. Toyota alone aims to sell 1 million hybrid vehicles a year by the early 2010s. Denso expects hybrids to account for 15 percent of the global auto market by 2020, up from 4 percent in 2015.
More customers, lower costs
Selling hybrid components to companies beyond Toyota would boost volume and help bring down costs. Cost is a key hurdle to the wider acceptance of electric-gasoline vehicles.
"Standardization will bring down the price," Tokuda said.
Other global suppliers are pursuing a similar strategy. Germany's Robert Bosch GmbH is working on its own integrated hybrid system package. Bosch's technology will debut next year in a hybrid version of the Porsche Cayenne SUV and the Volkswagen Touareg SUV.
Bernd Bohr, Bosch's automotive group chairman, said: "We see that mainly as a training ground for the electric vehicles. All of the electric components you find in the hybrid, such as the electric motor, the power electronics, the battery, are also later on part of an electric vehicle."