Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Toyota to build new battery plant

Toyota Prius Battery

Tokyo, Japan --Toyota Motor Corp., seeking to stay in pole position in the fuel efficient car race, unveiled plans Friday to build a new factory producing batteries for eco-friendly vehicles.

The move comes amid growing competition between Japanese automakers to tap demand for economical cars amid soaring prices at the pump.

Toyota's joint venture with its partner Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. plans to spend 20 billion yen (192 million dollars) to build a plant in Kosai in central Shizuoka Prefecture, said Toyota spokesman Hideaki Homma.

Toyota has taken a lead in sales of hybrids, selling more than one million of its Prius model -- the world's first mass-produced hybrid -- since its launch about a decade ago.

But it is facing renewed competition from other Japanese automakers such as Honda as well as overseas rivals in the green automobile race.

Earlier the Nikkei business daily reported that Toyota aims to double its annual production of batteries for eco-friendly cars to one million units by 2011.

The joint venture, Panasonic EV Energy Co. (PEVE), will invest a total of 70 billion yen (673 million dollars) to expand production of the batteries, the Nikkei reported without naming its sources.

It said Toyota would build a new nickel metal-hydride battery plant in Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture, though the automaker denied such decision had been taken.

The report said another new plant would produce lithium ion batteries for Toyota plug-in hybrids -- the first time Toyota has mass produced lithium-ion batteries.

Automakers have for years been competing to develop lithium-ion rechargeable batteries suitable for long distance hybrids, but there have been safety concerns after massive recalls by laptop computer manufacturers.

Nissan Motor Co. said this week it and NEC Corp. will invest 115 million dollars to mass produce new batteries for electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

Honda Motor -- like Toyota a pioneer of hybrid-engine cars -- said this week it plans to introduce what it describes as an affordable hybrid in early 2009.

Hybrids are equipped with an electric motor and a standard petrol engine, making them more economical and environmentally friendly than conventional autos.

[Source : AFP via Autoblog]


0 Responses to "Toyota to build new battery plant"

Post a Comment