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Toyota, Panasonic launch joint venture to make electric-car batteries

The companies will sell prismatic batteries to "various" automakers.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime charging port
The joint venture intends to create a "stable supply of competitive batteries" for car manufacturers.

Toyota and Panasonic will work together to research, develop and manufacture advanced prismatic cells for the batteries in electric cars. The joint venture, announced Tuesday, is expected to begin operations by the end of 2020 with the goal of selling batteries to multiple automakers.

Specifically, Toyota and Panasonic intend to cooperate on research and development of lithium-ion and solid-state batteries, as well as "next-generation" battery technology. The companies say their work will focus on battery safety, charging times, energy density and other factors. Panasonic will even be involved early in the electric-car development process, "from the vehicle planning and conception stage."

"As vehicle electrification accelerates toward the solving of such environmental issues, batteries are a most-important element," the companies said in a statement. "The business environment is one in which independent efforts by battery manufacturers or automobile manufacturers are not enough for solving the issues concerned."

Toyota also intends to contribute manufacturing knowledge to the joint venture, while Panasonic will contribute its global customer base. As well as being used by Toyota, the batteries resulting from the partnership will be sold to other carmakers through Toyota. Toyota will have 51 percent of the equity in the joint venture, with Panasonic having 49 percent.

Toyota said in late 2017 that it aimed to sell "more than 10" battery-electric cars by the mid-2020s, contributing to sales of 5.5 million electrified vehicles by 2030. Panasonic, for its part, has already partnered with other automakers on battery research. It is part of the Libtec consortium development solid-state car batteries, is investigating swappable electric motorcycle batteries with Honda, and will help Tesla improve production capacity at its battery production facilities.