In the early stages of Tesla’s formation, the Japanese corporation Toyota Motor was a shareholder of its future competitor, and now it is forced to catch up with Elon Musk’s brainchild in the production of traction batteries. The Japanese auto giant has a common partner with Tesla, Panasonic, which supplies different types of batteries to both automakers.
Toyota gets prismatic battery cells, while Tesla gets cylindrical ones. In this sense, everything is simple, and Toyota and Panasonic also have an independent joint venture called Prime Planet Energy & Solutions. Its Japanese companies created in April, consolidating their core assets. Prime Planet is now the world’s largest supplier of traction batteries for hybrid vehicles. Toyota recently set itself the goal of increasing the share of electrified vehicles in its new product sales to 50% by 2025, so the joint venture will need to improve battery technology at a rapid pace.
In the global high-capacity traction battery market, which also takes into account the needs of purebred electric vehicles, and not just hybrids, Prime Planet still holds no more than 3%, behind Chinese competitors. The same Chinese CATL, which is also Tesla’s supplier, accounts for more than 20% of the market. According to Hiroaki Koda, Prime Planet chief executive, the company now faces the challenge of standardizing its range of batteries and optimizing the supply chain of materials required for their production.
With a tenfold increase in production efficiency, Prime Planet sees it as possible to outperform its Chinese competitors. Already in the next generation of traction batteries, which are currently being developed, the production efficiency indicators will be increased five or six times. Tesla’s plans to cut the cost of battery production by half in a few years do not bother the company representatives. Similar goals are achievable for the “court” manufacturer Toyota, according to representatives of Prime Planet.
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