* Toyota to mass-produce lithium batteries from autumn-Nikkei
* To spend 10 bln yen on new production in Japan - Nikkei
* Will make batteries for 100,000 hybrids a year - Nikkei
* Toyota says to start lithium battery production soon
(Adds Toyota comment, updates share price)
TOKYO, Jan 13 Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) will
mass-produce lithium ion batteries for its plug-in hybrid
vehicles from this autumn, the Nikkei business daily reported.
Toyota's first-ever production lines for lithium ion
batteries at its plant in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan and
at a factory operated with Panasonic Corp (6752.T) in Shizuoka
Prefecture, south of Tokyo, are expected to cost the carmaker 10
billion yen ($120 million), the newspaper said.
Toyota will soon begin mass-producing lithium batteries at
subsidiary Prime Earth EV Energy, which is 80.5 percent owned by
the carmaker with the remainder held by Panasonic, Toyota
spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto said. That plan is not new, she
The two facilities combined will make batteries for about
100,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles a year, the Nikkei said. Toyota
plans to sell these vehicles in Japan, the United States and
Europe at the start of 2012, the paper said.
Hashimoto declined to say how many of its own lithium
batteries Toyota planned to make.
Lithium ion batteries are seen as more suitable for eco-cars,
but their cost has been an issue as it accounts for about half
the cost of a typical electric car, the Nikkei said, adding that
manufacturing them in-house will give Toyota more control over
performance and costs.
Japanese makers led by Panasonic are battling Korean makers
such as LG Chem (051910.KS) and Samsung SDI (006400.KS) to win
the biggest share of the nascent market for lithium batteries
used to power computers, mobile phones, hybrids, electric
vehicles and other consumer products.
Panasonic, largely through its Sanyo subsidiary, has about a
26 percent share of the global market for lithium ion cells,
according to research firm Techno Systems Research. The company
has contracts to supply batteries to six automakers including
Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T).
It is also selling to U.S. partner Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O)
in which Toyota holds a stake, the Nikkei said.
Hitachi Ltd (6501.T), which already supplies batteries for
General Motors Co (GM.N) hybrids, will begin mass production of
high-performance lithium ion batteries for plug-in hybrids in
2013, the paper said.
Shares of Toyota were up 0.9 percent at 3,530 yen by late
Thursday morning in Tokyo, compared with a 0.6 percent gain in
the benchmark Nikkei .N225 average.
(Reporting by Aditi Sharma in Bangalore and Tim Kelly in Tokyo;
Editing by Michael Watson)