Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp. is intending to hike production of lithium-ion batteries six-fold to 200,000 units a year, according to a report by the Nikkei business daily. Without citing sources, the daily reported that the carmaker is fast-tracking its lithium-ion battery production in preparation for their installation in its flagship Prius gasoline-electric hybrids.
Most of the carmaker’s hybrid vehicles currently use nickel-metal hydride batteries. However, Toyota is planning to make more hybrids powered by lithium-ion batteries, which could be smaller and lighter, leading to an improved fuel economy, the Nikkei reported.
The business daily said that Toyota and Panasonic Corp would invest JPY20 billion ($194 million) to construct a new production line. The joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic will increase lithium-ion battery output capacity to 200,000 units a year, according to the Nikkei.
Toyota spokesman Ryo Sakai told Reuters that taking into account the demand for lithium-ion batteries, the joint venture mulls producing them at its Omori plant. In April 2013, Toyota said it has sold over 5 million gasoline-electric hybrids as of end of March 2013, since they were first launched in 1997.
The carmaker’s Prius series accounted for around 70 percent of the total hybrid sales, making it the most popular hybrid model in the industry. Toyota sold 1.2 million hybrids in 2012 around the world, the first time it surpassed 1 million hybrid sales in a year.