Panasonic hookup could jolt Japan's electric-car sector

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The agreement for greater cooperation on batteries comes as competition among automakers to develop more EVs conforming to stricter regulations worldwide to cut vehicle emissions, increases.

Toyota President Toyoda Akio told a press conference in Tokyo that his company aims to have electric-powered vehicles, including gasoline-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, account for 50% or more of its group's global vehicle sales by 2030. No word on whether Panasonic has a role in that initiative.

Toyota is also thought to be developing more advanced solid-state batteries for its first volume electric vehicle due early next decade.

But Toyota, which has previously focused on hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells, is having to play catch-up on pure EVs. "Such cars do not fit in our program".

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Japan's automotive giant Toyota Motor Corp. and electronics maker Panasonic Corp. announced Wednesday an agreement to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business. "It would be hard for us to meet our 2030 goals given the current pace of battery development".

Toyoda said Toyota is targeting annual sales of 4.5 million vehicles for petrol-electric and plug-in hybrids by 2030, and 1.0 million units for EVs and FCVs.

In September, Toyota teamed up with smaller domestic rival Mazda to develop electric vehicles. Panasonic already makes prismatic batteries for Toyota, whereas for Tesla, it makes cylindrical batteries of a type similar to those used in laptops. He added that auto companies could not tackle the issue of electrification all on their own and would need to look for help.

"In order to make ever-better cars, we need to collaborate with a specialized battery manufacturer".

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