Toyota, Panasonic consider joint development of EV batteries

Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda left, and Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga attend a joint news conference in Tokyo announcing a partnership to jointly developing batteries for electric vehicles. (Reuters)
Updated 13 December 2017
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Toyota, Panasonic consider joint development of EV batteries

TOKYO: Toyota Motor and Panasonic said on Wednesday they are considering jointly developing batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), a partnership that could help Panasonic extend its market lead in automotive lithium-ion batteries.
The announcement builds on an existing agreement under which Panasonic manufactures batteries for Toyota’s gasoline-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Toyota said last year it was planning to add fully electric vehicles to its product line-up in a shift away from its previous green-car strategy of focusing on plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles. It has said it plans to start marketing pure EVs in the early 2020s.
Panasonic is the main EV battery supplier for luxury US car maker Tesla. The electronics firm commands 29 percent of the market for batteries used in plug-in hybrids and EVs, showed Nomura Research data for the first half of 2017.
Nearest rival LG Chem holds 13 percent of the market, followed by China’s BYD on 10 percent and Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) at 9 percent.
“Working with automakers from the initial stages could allow battery makers to win orders that unlock economies of scale further down the road,” Credit Suisse analyst Mika Nishimura said in a research note to clients ahead of the Toyota-Panasonic announcement. “Partnerships could also allow battery makers to share R&D and capex costs with automakers to some extent.”
Panasonic sees batteries as central to its plan to nearly double automotive business revenue to ¥2.5 trillion ($826.14 billion) by the year through March 2022. To that end, it has been expanding battery production capacity globally.
It started mass production of battery cells at Tesla’s “Gigafactory” in the US state of Nevada earlier this year and plans to follow suit at a new plant in Dalian, China. It is also adding new production lines in Japan.


Australian court fines Apple $6.7 million over iPhone ‘bricking’ case

Updated 40 min 11 sec ago
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Australian court fines Apple $6.7 million over iPhone ‘bricking’ case

SYDNEY: An Australian court fined US electronics giant Apple Inc. A$9 million ($6.7 million) on Tuesday after a regulator accused it of using a software update to disable iPhones which had cracked screens fixed by third parties.
The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued the world’s biggest company by market value for “bricking” — or using a software update to disable — hundreds of smartphones and tablet devices, then refusing to unlock them if the devices had been serviced by non-Apple repairers.
On Tuesday the Australian Federal Court found in the regulator’s favor, saying Apple had breached the country’s consumer law by telling some 275 customers they were not eligible for a remedy if their device had been repaired by a third party.
“The mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement.
“Global companies must ensure their returns policies are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law, or they will face ACCC action,” Court said.
An Apple spokeswoman said in an email the company had “very productive conversations with the ACCC about this” without commenting further on the court finding.
The ACCC said after it told Apple about its investigation, the US company sought to compensate customers whose devices were made inoperable by the software update, known as “error 53.” So far, Apple had contacted about 5,000 customers, the ACCC said.
Apple has also offered to improve staff training, information about warranties and consumer law on its website, and processes to ensure compliance, the ACCC said.