Toyota Could Buy Lithium-Ion Batteries for Hybrids from Sanyo

toyota sanyo logos image

Not NiMH, Which Should Mean Significant Progress
Two weeks ago I wrote about how Toyota couldn't make Prius hybrids any faster to meet a strong demand because of the limited availability of battery packs. Well, it seems like Toyota doesn't want that to happen again, because sources are reporting that the company is talking to Sanyo about buying lithium-ion batteries starting in 2011.The deal makes a lot of sense because Toyota is currently getting its battery packs from Panasonic EV Energy (which is actually 60% owned by Toyota), and "late last year, Panasonic agreed to buy Sanyo in a deal valued at more than $9 billion, with an offer for the shares likely to take place once regulatory hurdles are cleared." So they're keeping it in the family.

A second generation Toyota Prius converted to PHEV. Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Small Volume at First?
But those excited by the fact that Toyota is (reportedly) expanding its supply of lithium-ion batteries should put down the party hats. The same report points out that "Toyota will first procure about 10,000 battery units per year from Sanyo" (in 2011), so this could be for the initial low-volume run of the Toyota plug-in hybrid that has been announced for 2012.

So maybe Toyota will eventually switch the NiMH batteries from its hybrids to lithium-ion, but it won't happen with only 10,000 packs a year. Hopefully if that low-volume test is successful, Toyota will ramp up production and get more lithium-ion battery packs.

Via Reuters, Wall Street Journal
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