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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Toyota to Raise Stake in Panasonic Battery Venture

Toyota Motor Corp. will increase its stake in a hybrid-car-battery joint venture with Panasonic Corp. to more than 80.5 percent from the current 60 percent, Nikkei English News said, without citing anyone.

Toyota will purchase shares from Panasonic and also buy as much as 15 billion yen ($162 million) in new stock, the report said.

The move follows Panasonic’s acquisition of Sanyo Electric Co. As one of the conditions for allowing that deal, Chinese authorities demanded that Panasonic lower its ownership in the venture, Panasonic EV Energy Co.

Panasonic EV supplies most of its output to Toyota. With the leading Japanese automaker gearing up to launch 10 or so new hybrid models within the next few years, the joint venture is working toward bolstering its output capacity. Its investments in the new factory and planned expansion of production lines are estimated to reach 35 billion yen.

Panasonic EV is planning to triple annual production capacity at its Miyagi factory to enough nickel-metal hydride batteries for 300,000 hybrid vehicles. This will boost the venture’s combined capacity, along with a factory in Shizuoka Prefecture, to enough for 1.1 million vehicles, an increase of 40% from the end of last year.

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