Panasonic to boost hybrid battery production in 2009

Panasonic EV energy is cranking up production of its automotive battery packs. In 2009, the company -- a joint-venture between Toyota and Matsushita (Panasonic's parent company) -- plans to produce 800,000 battery packs for hybrid vehicles. Last year, Toyota sold 429,000 hybrids but has a goal of selling 1 million per year by early in the next decade. Almost all the production will be nickel metal hydride batteries, although toward the end of the year, Panasonic will start producing low volumes of lithium-ion batteries for the PHEV field tests that Toyota plans to launch in 2010.

As has been the case, Panasonic EV expects the bulk of next year's production to go to Toyota, although they do supply batteries to other companies. The Chevy Tahoe/GMC Yukon 2-Mode hybrids currently use a Panasonic battery pack. At this year's Detroit Auto Show, Toyota announced plans to introduce two new dedicated hybrid vehicles at the 2009 exhibition. One will be the third-generation Prius while the other will be a Lexus-branded model. Most carmakers are forming some kind of partnership with battery companies to ensure that they have access to technology and supplies. Honda works with Sanyo, Nissan with NEC and Mitsubishi with GS Yuasa.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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