Honda is holding discussions with a potential second supplier of lithium ion batteries for upcoming hybrids to further cut down costs as well as ensure steady supply. Kentaro Yokoo, chief engineer of the new one-motor hybrid drivetrain fitted in the redesigned Honda Fit, made this statement. The Japanese carmaker is expected to reach an agreement within a year.
The new battery supplier would serve as a backup to Blue Energy Co., a joint venture formed in 2009 between Honda and Japanese battery maker GS Yuasa Corp. Blue Energy currently supplies all batteries for the carmaker’s new generation of Earth Dreams hybrid drivetrains. The series covers the one-motor system for the Fit and a new two-motor layout for the Accord hybrid sedan – all powered by lithium ion batteries.
Honda’s search for another battery supplier is prompted by its want to spur competition that may lead to a better battery at lower costs, Yokoo said. It is also prompted by Honda’s want to have a backup supplier in case of delivery issues with Blue Energy – reflecting lessons learned from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011.
The disasters caused disruptions in the supply chain, particularly in the output of a few key components. The search for another supplier may also reflect concern about quality glitches, after Mitsubishi Motors Corp. recalled its Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV earlier this year due to defective lithium ion batteries supplied by GS Yuasa, which also supplied lithium ion batteries that overheated and forced the grounding of Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner jet aircraft in January 2013.