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Japanese automotive supplier Denso wants to expands its business of selling components and systems for hybrid and electric powertrains and sees standardization as a way to get there. Toyota is Denso's largest single largest shareholder with 23 percent of the suppliers stock. Denso has been supplying parts like inverters, sensors and electronic control units for many years.

If there's one repeated refrain we hear about the high price of advanced lithium batteries that are needed for the mass adoption of pure electric cars, it's that economies of scale will one day make the packs reasonably affordable. This seems a likely scenario, but is it inevitable? A paragraph in a recent column by Jerry Flint in Forbes caught my eye. He writes: