Panasonic, the leading supplier of the Toyota Prius battery, is continually increasing production to meet the demands of the new Prius.  The battery division, called Panasonic EV Energy Co. Ltd, hopes to increase output to nearly 1 million units with the addition of another plant in northern Japan.

The plant is schedule to open next year and will cost the battery supplier nearly $320 million to build, but is essential to allow them to keep up with the unexpectedly high demand for the new generation Prius.

Toyota Motor Company is Panasonic's biggest customer and they also have a controlling interest in the company.  According to Toyota, sales of hybrid Toyota products are expected to reach 1 million units by 2011 and the need for additional batteries is immediate.

Panasonic sold more than 500,000 batteries in 2008, 90% of which went to Toyota.  They are currently operating at full capacity which allows them to output 840,000 batteries each year, well short of the million mark.  The additional plant in Taiwa Miyagi prefecture, Japan will give the company an additional 200,000 units of capacity when it becomes fully operational in 2010.

In addition to the NiMH batteries supplied by Panasonic for many Toyota products, they will also be responsible for the production of the lithium-ion battery packs to be used in the 500 demonstration plug-in Priuses introduced this year in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. The li-ion packs will be produced at a separate location within it's Omori complex.

Panasonic supplies batteries for all Toyota hybrids including the Lexus LS 600h, GS 450h, RX 400h, HS 250h, Toyota Crown Hybrid, Harrier Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, Camry Hybrid, Estima Hybrid, Alphard Hybrid, Daihatsu Cargo Hybrid, Hino Dutro Hybrid, and of course the Toyota Prius.

Source:  Wards Auto (Login Required)