Toyota Looks To Team Up With Panasonic On Prismatic Batteries

2 months ago by Mark Kane 46

Honda and Mazda might join in too.

Toyota and Panasonic organized a bold press conference in Japan to announce a feasibility study into a joint automotive prismatic battery business.

Toyota and Panasonic to Start Feasibility Study of Joint Automotive Prismatic Battery Business

It’s a little bit of mystery because the two have business relationships dating all the way back to 1953. More recently, the pair established a battery joint-venture in 1996 (Primearth EV Energy formerly the Panasonic EV Energy Co) and Panasonic already supplies Toyota with lithium-ion prismatic batteries. So, there’s some weirdness here.

“Both companies will consider details of the collaboration with the aim of achieving the best automotive prismatic battery in the industry and, ultimately, contributing to the popularization of Toyota’s and other automakers’ electrified vehicles.”

There must be something more on the table to negotiate that we don’t know yet like maybe a multi GWh battery factory for breakthrough cells (solid-state cells to be studied). Some sources also indicate that a massive Japanese alliance could be created with companies like Honda and Mazda joining the party.

Clearly this is a developing story.

Press blast:

Toyota and Panasonic to Start Feasibility Study of Joint Automotive Prismatic Battery Business

Aim is to advance prismatic battery technology for automotive use

Toyota City, Japan, December 13, 2017―Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) and Panasonic Corporation (Panasonic) announce today an agreement to begin studying the feasibility of a joint automotive prismatic battery business.

This agreement between the two companies aims to help find solutions to pressing societal issues such as global warming, air pollution, the depletion of natural resources and energy security. Furthermore, this agreement is intended to address growing demand and expectations for electrified vehicles. In order to realize these objectives, Toyota and Panasonic target further advancements in automotive batteries, which are crucial technologies in electrified vehicles.

Since Toyota and Panasonic began their business relationship in 1953, the two companies have been challenging each other with the goal of mutual improvement, particularly in honing their manufacturing capabilities (monozukuri). With the business environment undergoing drastic change, both companies have realized the importance of collaborating with trusted partners and looking past conventional boundaries to contribute to the world through monozukuri and creating new value.

Through activities such as launching the Prius, the world’s first mass production hybrid vehicle (HV), in 1997, and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in 2014, Toyota has a record of taking on difficult challenges in its effort to realize a sustainable mobility society. Leveraging the know-how and experience accumulated through the continuous refinement and commercialization of its electrification technologies, Toyota is working on the development of a full range of environmentally friendly vehicles including HVs, PHVs (plug-in hybrid vehicles), FCVs, and EVs (electric vehicles) that fit the needs of customers’ lifestyles worldwide.

Panasonic has positioned automotive lithium-ion batteries as one of its key businesses, and its automotive batteries are used by many automakers worldwide. Panasonic’s technological capabilities which achieve various requirements for such batteries are well regarded in the market. The company is making efforts to further enhance the safety and capacity of its automotive prismatic batteries, making use of its accumulated technological knowledge in the battery business.

Toyota and Panasonic recognize the importance that further advancements in battery performance, price and safety, as well as a stable supply capacity, will have on encouraging further popularization of electrified vehicles. Both companies will consider details of the collaboration with the aim of achieving the best automotive prismatic battery in the industry and, ultimately, contributing to the popularization of Toyota’s and other automakers’ electrified vehicles.

 

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46 responses to "Toyota Looks To Team Up With Panasonic On Prismatic Batteries"

  1. Ror_H says:

    I expect this means Panasonic with build Toyota’s solid state batteries. Panasonic has the manufacturing expertise and Toyota probably has the IP rights for the solid state battery.

    1. Chris O says:

      More accurately: Toyota and many others are trying to figure out how to make solid state work and Panasonic doesn’t have a clue how to make something that doesn’t exist yet.

      1. John Doe says:

        Solid state batteries exist, but not in commercial volumes and prices.

        You can buy solid state batteries made in Canada, the US (both companies and universitites), Japan and Korea. You have to contact the makers or universities, and they may offer test cells – but nothing that can compromise their IP. There is a potential gold mine in this. They will of course not risk this
        As far as I know, you can not buy solid state batteries made in Europe (even though there are at least 6-7 places that develop and have working prototypes).

        The problem is volume production, automation and a price people can live with.
        There are several ways to make it, and they have been under testing for several years.

        We bought test cells some years ago.
        We used one under a fuel cell show display, where a fairly small solar cell converted the energy to H2 gas, and then it was led to the fuel cell and produced energy – stored it in a small battery, and then was spinning a fan, flashing a few LEDs and so on. Classic school project in other words.

        It had a high price back then.

        I expect that it will cost more (then normal batteries) in the beginning, and will be offered at a top of the line choise. Either for luxury brands to begin with, or maybe a Tesla Model S 150 SS

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          A good summary of the state of the art, thanks.

          However it’s very likely, in fact I’d say almost certain, that we’ll see solid state batteries in some consumer electronics product, perhaps a cell phone or a laptop, before we’ll see them in plug-in EVs. The higher price can be much more easily justified when it’s a single cell in a cellphone with a price of hundreds of dollars.

          Toyota is no doubt working to commercialize its solid state battery tech, but there’s no good reason to believe it’s going to succeed before anyone else does. Just by the sheer number of different companies and research teams working hard on commercializing the tech, the odds are long against Toyota being the first.

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      They were talking about it in the press conference. They expect maybe 5-10 years for current Li Ion generation in prismatic form, as it better fits into car than cylindrical. Then solid state.

      It isn’t like Toyota and Panasonic CEOs decide to make press conference because they have nothing better to do but help their marketing department. It means starting something big, or at least they expect such.

      Toyota is one of the top battery research companies with 200 researchers working on it for many years. You may expect them to be in the first lines if something interesting will come out of SS.
      http://english.etnews.com/20170717200003

  2. CDAVIS says:

    Toyota said: “Both companies will consider details of the collaboration with the aim of achieving the best automotive prismatic battery in the industry and, ultimately, contributing to the popularization of Toyota’s and other automakers’ electrified vehicles.”
    ———————-

    That folks is a fine example of do-nothing corporate bureaucracy BS… and why Tesla has a multi year lead over Toyota for EV cars.

    1. theflew says:

      The question who would Panasonic rather do business with – Toyota or Tesla. All things being equal I’m sure they would prefer Toyota. Panasonic has been footing a lot of the bill in Tesla’s case. With Toyota they could be equals.

      1. Another Euro point of view says:

        Exactly, this is a very good development for Panasonic and I am sure they were aiming/working at such partnership for many years now. Would I have Tesla as a significant business partner I would also try to secure a partnership with a sleeping pill producer in order to manage sleeping at night. Like it or not, Tesla financials are a new form of modern art (a bit like the Scream, by Munch). Moreover it is crucial for Panasonic to develop their prismatic cells production seems everyone except Tesla seems to want them.

        1. Peter G. says:

          Prismatic means square.
          Maybe next Toyota could partner with Yokohama to put Prismatic tires on its cars.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Actually, as far as EV batteries go, the term “prismatic” is applied to block-shaped cells, rectangular in cross-section.

            * * * * *

            prism
            noun — Geometry

            a solid geometric figure whose two end faces are similar, equal, and parallel rectilinear figures, and whose sides are parallelograms.

            1. SJC says:

              I would prefer pouch over prismatic. Prismatic are folded, the insides over heat.

        2. CDAVIS says:

          @Another Euro point of view said: “Tesla financials are a new form of modern art…”
          ——————

          Wrong…. again….

          The Tesla fianacials controversy was about how Tesla reported lease revenue prior to 3Q16…

          All Telsa 2017 financials are GAAP:

          “Since 3Q16, Tesla has discontinued the release of its non-GAAP financial data. GAAP mandates lease revenues to be recognized throughout the life of the lease. However, in a non-GAAP set of numbers, lease revenues are recognized upfront.

          The difference between GAAP and non-GAAP revenues thus comes due to the differential treatment of lease accounting.“

          Source: https://beta.marketrealist.com/2017/10/why-analysts-expect-teslas-revenues-to-rise-in-3q17?utm_source=redirect5&utm_medium=auto

      2. Someone out there says:

        Yep, this is another basket of eggs. Today Panasonic are very dependent on Tesla, with more these deals they spread the risk and land softer when Tesla goes belly up.

        1. CDAVIS says:

          @Someone out there (aka Another Euro point of view) said: “…when Tesla goes belly up.”
          —————-

          To bad for you… that’s not going to happen.

          How sad a life hanging your hopes and aspersions that Tesla goes under so your TSLA short gets a big-pay day… spending your time making clever misleading comments in hopes that your paint-it-black words inflicts damage to Tesla… pathetic. I read somewhere that shorters that get fixated on a single target often are compensating for a personal short (pun intended).

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “Tesla envy happens when other people have, ahem, long positions and yours is too short.” — Jim Whitehead

        2. Peter G. says:

          Nope.
          Tesla is such a huge part of Panasonic’s business. If it fails it will bring Panasonic down with it.

        3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          “…when Tesla goes belly up.”

          😆 😆 😆

          Oh, please do continue to bet on Tesla going bankrupt by shorting Tesla stock! Since the “short” activity is so high for that stock, it actually drives up the price, which benefits Tesla in several ways.

          Tesla’s problem isn’t that it’s in danger of collapsing. Tesla’s problem is that it’s growing so fast it’s got major growing pains!

          Go Tesla!

      3. CDAVIS says:

        @theflew said/ “The question who would Panasonic rather do business with – Toyota or Tesla.”
        —————

        Who has Panasonic to-date received the most net partner benefit — Toyota or Tesla?

        A Toyota / Panasonic partnership would be between two highly conservative Japanese companies that will spend a great deal of time trying to figure out how to be market aggressive without exposing themselves to market risk… which will result in a take-it-slow partnership… the kind of partnership Panasonic originally wanted with Telsa but Tesla did not allow itself to be risk constrained.

      4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        theflew said:

        “The question who would Panasonic rather do business with – Toyota or Tesla.”

        Typical zero-sum thinking, of which we are seeing far too much these days, especially in political “strategy” from the hard right. That is, if shooting yourself in the foot repeatedly counts as “strategy”!

        Panasonic would benefit best by partnering with multiple auto makers, including both Tesla and Toyota. As the EV revolution accelerates, all major auto makers are going to have to partner with at least one high-volume battery maker, so they can — like Tesla — build high-volume battery factories whose output they control.

        That’s the only way EV makers are going to be able to eliminate the bottleneck of battery cell production. Relying on the battery makers themselves to build out production capacity in advance of demand, clearly is not working. If it was, then Tesla never would have needed to spend billions on building its Gigafactory One.

        1. BenG says:

          Tesla is pushing ahead of the rest of the industry, which is a somewhat risky move and is why they had to spring for the gigafactory.

          Given Toyota’s place in the industry I doubt they’ll have any trouble convincing Panasonic to scale up battery production for them if they commit to building a mass-market EV. I expect Toyota and Panasonic will do it through a partnership again the way they did it for the ~10 million NiMH traction batteries for Toyota and Lexus hybrids.

          Big difference between Tesla’s position a few years ago when they started the gigafactory vs. Toyota’s, so there’s not necessarily any reason for Toyota to build giant battery factories in the same way.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Whether it’s giant factories like Gigafactory One or smaller ones, worldwide volume production of li-ion batteries is going to have to be scaled up by a couple of orders of magnitude, at least. I think Elon said that about 100-200 Gigafactories would be required to switch all automobile production to BEVs.

            It’s not about the size of the factories; it’s about the size of the production.

        2. theflew says:

          I never said it was a zero sum game. Just stating Panasonic would rather have customers like Toyota that are stable and predictable. Also Panasonic has to be looking at Samsung and LG with their multi vendor contracts. LG is sitting n a gold mine as manufacturers increase EV production.

          1. Mark.ca says:

            You don’t say it but you obviously imply it. Whay would Panasonic not want to do business with both at the same time? Is there a rule I’m not aware of?

  3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Mark Kane wrote:

    “There must be something more on the table to negotiate that we don’t know yet like maybe a multi GWh battery factory…”

    If Toyota is finally ready to get serious about making and selling long-range PEVs, then it will definitely want to avoid the production bottleneck that Tesla kept running up against before it started getting battery cells from Gigafactory One. Tesla was not able to get Panasonic to ramp up production as fast as it needed.

    So yes, Toyota — and every large auto maker which wants to still be in business 10 years from now — will need to invest in its own large battery factory/factories, so it can control its own battery production… and not be dependent on Panasonic or any other outside company.

    Right now, only BYD and Tesla control their own battery supply. I don’t think there is any serious doubt that other auto makers will also move to do this, as the EV revolution shifts into a higher gear.

    1. theflew says:

      Tesla doesn’t own any battery factories. Panasonic just happens to be co-located inside the gigafactory. It’s still Panasonics running the show. The only thing Toyota wants or GM is some guaranteed capacity. Car makers do not want to become battery makers – it’s a commodity business that’s racing to the bottom.

      1. Peter G. says:

        The Gigafactory is a 50/50 joint venture between Tesla & Panasonic.

      2. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

        Tesla owns a battery factory.
        Panasonic is the cell manufacturer that operates inside the factory.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          Is the concept of “partnership” something that you really cannot understand?

          Far too much “zero-sum” thinking here. A partnership is a cooperative venture, a win-win situation; that’s why they are so common.

      3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        theflew said:

        “Panasonic just happens to be co-located inside the gigafactory. It’s still Panasonics running the show.”

        As they say: You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. It is Tesla, not Panasonic, who controls the rate at which raw materials are fed into the factory; and it is Tesla, not Panasonic, who sets the production rate for battery cells.

        P.S. — The name on the side of Gigafactory One is “Tesla”, not “Panasonic”.

    2. HVACman says:

      Numerous accounts of the production problems at the Gigafactory, including Elon Musk’s own descriptions during the conference calls, point all fingers towards the module and pack assembly side of the factory – specifically “zone 2” (and maybe zone 4), which is Tesla and other sub-contractors’ responsibility. Panasonic’s cell production level at the GF does not appear to be the problem.

      1. Another Euro point of view says:

        Yes, should I need to partner with either Tesla or/and Toyota, I would partner with Tesla for design, Hype, raising capital and creative accounting abilities, and with Toyota for building the products and make sure Tesla’s designers are taking costs into consideration, does not over-complexify their design, does not get us all to jail with over-creative accounting.

    3. Mystery says:

      Enough said. The home battery experts play for the home team, Except your favorite USA mentor Trump who picks winners like Strange, no Moore, no climate change. That’s who you seem to envy and learn from.
      https://www.marketwatch.com/story/for-tesla-2018-is-all-about-getting-model-3-production-going-2017-12-12?siteid=yhoof2&yptr=yahoo

    4. Mystery says:

      You totally Bashed BYD Just Days ago, what a hypocrite in trying to give Credit to Tesla. Total misdirection and deception. Bill H is So right about you

      1. Mystery says:

        Also, here are some facts, which you will ignore and create a wild misdirection about
        1. first Tesla Autopilot death in China in January 2016
        2. Model s USA peaked and declining
        3. 16K tesla sold in all of 2016 in China

        Their only path to profitability is to sell more than 100k Model 3 in US in 2018, which neither you, Nix Big Mouth, not the Get unReal will claim.
        You know who is more likely to smile for their Kodak moment, TSLA, not toyota (what egg on yr face).

    5. GeorgeS says:

      @PMPU
      ” then it (Toyota) will definitely want to avoid the production bottleneck that Tesla kept running up against before it started getting battery cells from Gigafactory One. Tesla was not able to get Panasonic to ramp up production as fast as it needed.”

      Source?
      AFAIK the bottleneck is in pack assembly.

      (not that I doubt there is a problem on panasonics side–I just haven’t seen a concrete source that verifies the problem is on Panasonics side)

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “AFAIK the bottleneck is in pack assembly.”

        You’re talking about current production. I’m talking about previous years in which Tesla tried but failed to get Panasonic to ramp up production as fast as it wanted.

        There is plenty of evidence for that; for example, see the article linked below, from January 2014:

        https://insideevs.com/analysts-believe-tesla-wont-be-constrained-by-battery-cell-production/

        Lots of people talk like the primary reason Tesla spent billions of dollars to build a battery “Gigafactory” was to reduce battery prices. That’s wrong; the primary reason was to ensure Tesla would never again have its production constrained by battery supply.

        1. georgeS says:

          @PMPU,
          Oh OK.

          I’m just a bit obsessed w/ what’s happening at gigafactory production.

          Remember when you keep saying Tesla has a new Chemistry in the new 2170’s? You use Elons quote about the new chemistry.

          I don’t think they have a higher density cell in the 2170’s and I believe my math.

          However they could have the same energy density at a much lower cost with LESS Cobalt which is the most expensive ingredient.

          Supposedly LG chem is already to release the new cell that is low Cobalt. SK also .

          Point being maybe no big leap in energy density , just a big drop in the price of the cell.

          Panasonic already makes NMC batteries. Maybe they have found a way to make the next gen NMC with low Cobolt work???

          1. JyChevyVolt says:

            The next cell SK Innovation and LG are coming out with is NMC 811. We should see these cells in Kona EV, Niro EV, and Leaf 60kWh.

          2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            “Remember when you keep saying Tesla has a new Chemistry in the new 2170’s? You use Elons quote about the new chemistry.”

            Certainly I remember quoting what both Elon and J.B. Straubel said on that subject in a conference call. I posted that several times.

            “I don’t think they have a higher density cell in the 2170’s and I believe my math.”

            I won’t argue with you, since you’ve investigated the matter and I haven’t. It’s what Elon and J.B. Straubel claimed, but perhaps things didn’t turn out as they expected.

            I did notice you (or someone) making that claim recently. I haven’t engaged in any discussion of that point since, but I certainly wasn’t ignoring what you said.

            Hopefully nobody thinks I have ever claimed to always be right! I make the best guess I can based on the available evidence. Usually I’m right, but certainly not always.

            And I do appreciate it when someone points out I’m mistaken on my facts. That’s one way I learn things!

            “‘When the facts change, I change my mind,’ John Maynard Keynes once observed in a debate. ‘What do you do, sir?’ Why, sir, they take no notice of changed facts and so are untroubled by such questions.” — Rex Murphy

  4. BenG says:

    Looks like a continuation of their long-time partnership. Not really any news to speak of.

    Maybe their existing agreements/partnerships were more limited in some way than they want going forward. This may just be a way to formalize an increased investment on both their parts, for instance.

  5. Get Real says:

    LMAO, Mystery troll is starting to crack with repeated whiney and nonsensical posts as he gets more and more desperate as Tesla ramps up the Model 3.

    What a fool he truly is.

  6. Mystery says:

    Seems like you need an Apple Watch that can monitor your heart rate and sleep via bed mattress sensor, some real innovation that doesn’t lack LIDAR like all other vendors so to avoid Akan 2016 fatal china Autopilot crash that hardly anyone knew about, because it was Uber-handled

  7. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    Toyota is not going to want to do this by halves. Volume is important to lowering cost.

    Toyota’s NiMH hybrid battery manufacturing was also a joint venture (with Sanyo). That it’s pursuing a JV with Panasonic is not surprising.

    1. BenG says:

      Toyota’s hybrid NiMH batteries were/are made by the Toyota/Panasonic joint venture Primearth EV Energy.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primearth_EV_Energy

  8. Another Euro point of view says:

    At pravda Electrek, someone commenting about same news, wrote that new Roadster could use prismatic cells instead of cylindrical cells.
    A little after his post was deleted, weird.

  9. Martin T. says:

    Congratulations Mr Toyoda of Toyota Motor corporation for doing the right thing and progress in the most environmental and positive way.
    Panasonic is also a trusted company.
    This will be a big Win Win for both companies and consumers.
    ***Clapping**** Very Best Wishes
    (Finally I can say this) 🙂

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