Toyota and Panasonic have announced a joint venture to design and build batteries for electric vehicles, or EVs.
Toyota will own 51% of the venture while Panasonic will hold the other 49%. The two companies will combine their existing equipment, personnel, and other assets for the joint venture, which is expected to employ 3,500 workers and start by 2020.
Panasonic is already a major supplier of batteries to the EV industry and the exclusive battery cell provider to Tesla.
The two companies already have a joint venture, Prime Earth EV Energy, which provides batteries for gasoline hybrid cars. Toyota’s increased focus on batteries is a contrast to other automobile manufacturers that have moved away from the business because of high development costs.
One of the areas of focus will be solid-state batteries. Although not commercially available yet, the technology is expected to result in smaller, lighter, and safer batteries that also hold more power per size than the lithium-ion batteries used today.
Toyota has been trying to develop solid-state battery technology for years. In 2017, the company had said it expected to put the batteries into use by the early 2020s.
EVs have become a major area of focus for the automotive industry. In December 2018, Volkswagen announced the capacity to build up to 15 million electric cars over several years.