If Toyota has any chance of meeting its stated goal of selling a million hybrids per year within the next decade, it's going to need lots and lots of batteries. Along with its partner, Matsushita, Toyota already has plants in operation to build the necessary nickel metal hydride battery packs, and one of those plants will be enlarged in order to meet capacity requirements. Two additional plants will also be built in Japan, one of which will begin production of the newer lithium ion batteries which are likely to be installed in future Lexus hybrids and Prius sedans. Toyota's full investment in these three battery plants is said to be roughly 20 billion yen, which is equal to 192 million dollars.

Toyota's dominance in the hybrid vehicle market is going to be challenged as fuel prices continue to rise. Recently, along with its partner NEC, Nissan announced that it was building a new plant to build advanced lithium ion packs for electric vehicles and hybrids. Additionally, General Motors is getting closer to releasing its new Volt, which many believe is superior in design over Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive.

[Source: AFP]