Japanese carmaker Toyota has finally put a name to a joint venture with electronics and electric vehicle (EV) battery maker Panasonic that was first explored in 2017 and will see the two work towards making prismatic batteries for EVs.
Under the name Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, the two hope to develop high quality but cost-effective batteries for not only Toyota but also a wider market.
Panasonic is already the leading supplier of batteries to electric vehicle leader Tesla via its Nevada Gigafactory and which is now second only to Toyota in market cap value.
Toyota has been somewhat tardy in the now inevitable transition to electric mobility, and though it no doubt hopes the partnership will save it from irrelevancy, one has to wonder if it can prove to be the tortoise to Tesla’s hare.
The announcement of the joint venture comes a little over a year since the two first confirmed a partnership would be formed to make prismatic batteries, and three years since it first started exploring the feasbility of such a deal.
The joint venture will officially launch in April of this year and will comprise a 51% share for Toyota and 49% for Panasonic.
Toyota will split off its existing automotive battery design development and component development business to be absorbed by the joint venture.
It is not the only deal Toyota has cut with an intention to develop components for electric vehicles.
In July 2019 it announced a deal with Warren Buffet-backed Chinese electric car and battery maker BYD with which it plans to develop “low-floor” SUVs and sedans as well as electric vehicle platforms, to be launched in China from early 2020.
Prismatic batteries are most commonly found in mobile phones, tablets and laptops and have the advantage of using space more efficiently than the cylindrical batteries such as 18650 Panasonic batteries used by Tesla.
However they typically have issues with thermal management and a shorter life cycle.
Toyota’s partnership with Panasonic hopes to “develop highly competitive, cost-effective batteries that are safe and feature excellent quality and performance (in terms of capacity, output, durability, etc.), enabling use with peace of mind by all customers”.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.