January 12, 2011 / 6:55 PM / 9 years ago

Toyota to make lithium batteries for hybrids: Nikkei

A Toyota Prius hybrid car is plugged into an electric outlet during the press day for the North American International Auto show in Detroit, Michigan, January 11, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

(Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp is planning to mass-produce lithium ion batteries for its plug-in hybrid vehicles from this autumn as Panasonic Corp and Hitachi Ltd get set to churn out similar products of their own, the Nikkei business daily reported.

Toyota’s first-ever production lines for lithium ion batteries at its plant in Aichi Prefecture and at a factory operated with Panasonic in Shizuoka Prefecture are slated to cost the carmaker 10 billion yen ($120 million), the business daily said.

These facilities will make batteries for about 100,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles a year, the Nikkei said. Toyota plans to release these vehicles in Japan, the United States and Europe at the start of 2012, the paper said.

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.

Panasonic plans to begin mass production of lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles as early as April and intends to market them to automakers at home and abroad, in addition to supplying the batteries to U.S. partner Tesla Motors Inc, the paper said.

Hitachi, which already supplies batteries for General Motors Co hybrids, will begin mass production of high-performance lithium ion batteries for plug-in hybrids in 2013, the business daily said.

($1=83.31 Yen)

Reporting by Aditi Sharma in Bangalore; Editing by Anne Pallivathuckal

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