Toyota using Tesla-style Panasonic batteries for China hybrids: sources

Toyota and Panasonic announced a joint venture in January to build electric-vehicle batteries. Above, concept versions of Toyota’s next-generation electric vehicles on display in Tokyo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2019

Toyota using Tesla-style Panasonic batteries for China hybrids: sources

  • Toyota is using Panasonic’s cylindrical batteries in its new Corolla and Levin plug-in hybrid sedans
  • Toyota and Panasonic announced a joint venture in January to build electric-vehicle batteries

TOKYO: Toyota has started using the same type of battery that Panasonic designed for Tesla in some of its plug-in hybrids sold in China, sources familiar with the matter said.
Toyota is using Panasonic’s cylindrical batteries in its new Corolla and Levin plug-in hybrid sedans launched in China this year, one of the people said.
The batteries are the same size as those that Panasonic makes for Tesla, but the composition is different, said the sources, who declined to be identified as the matter is private.
The move reflects Toyota’s efforts to secure stable supplies of high-quality batteries amid the accelerated global shift to electricity-powered cars.
Japan’s biggest automaker co-developed the batteries with Panasonic over a period of several years as it expands its lineup of electrified vehicles, according to one of the people, who has direct knowledge of matter.
A Panasonic spokeswoman said the company is not in a position to comment as a supplier, while Toyota declined to comment.
The Nikkei newspaper reported the news earlier.
Toyota has favored square, or prismatic, batteries for its vehicles, and uses some manufactured by Panasonic for its hybrids. The two companies announced a joint venture in January to build electric-vehicle (EV) batteries, pooling the R&D and manufacturing strengths of one of the world’s largest automakers with one of the largest battery makers.
Toyota has also partnered with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) and EV maker BYD for battery procurement.
Toyota is believed to have ordered about 50,000 of the cylindrical batteries, pushing Panasonic’s battery plant in Osaka to full capacity, the Nikkei said.
Panasonic has been the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla, but the US electric vehicle maker is in advanced talks with South Korea’s LG Chem as it seeks to diversify sources of the key component.


India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

Updated 15 October 2019

India probes Flipkart, Amazon discounts after retailers complain

  • Products on Amazon, Flipkart listed at steep discounts in sale
  • Trader groups allege firms violating foreign investment rules

NEW DELHI: The Indian government is looking into whether hefty discounts offered on Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon.com during their online festive sales violate foreign investment rules, a commerce ministry official told Reuters.
India introduced new rules in February aimed at protecting the 130 million people dependent on small-scale retail by deterring big online discounts. The rules forced e-commerce firms to tweak their business structures and drew criticism from the United States, straining trade ties between New Delhi and Washington.
While Amazon and Flipkart say they’ve complied with the federal rules, local trader groups say the two companies are violating them by burning money to offer discounts — of more than 50 percent in some cases — during the ongoing festive sales.
Reuters reviewed emails and internal training material from Flipkart showing the company is in some cases offering to reduce, or forfeit, its sales commission from sellers that offer discounts.
The commerce ministry official said the government was reviewing complaints and evidence filed by the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), a group representing some 70 million brick-and-mortar retailers, alleging Amazon and Flipkart were violating the foreign investment rules.
The official declined to comment on possible action, but executives from Amazon and Flipkart were summoned to meet commerce ministry officials last week to discuss the matter.
Flipkart in a statement said it had a “good meeting” with government officials and it was “deeply committed to doing business the right way in India.”
Amazon said it had an “open & transparent discussion” with officials and has a high bar for compliance.
Seeking to attract shoppers around the key Hindu festival of Diwali, both retailers have placed full-page advertisements in top national daily the Times of India to showcase discount offerings stretching from Samsung and Apple phones to clothing and diapers.
“Customers are going online because of the unbelievable discounts. Because of this sales at offline businesses are down 30 percent to 40 percent this month,” CAIT’s secretary general Praveen Khandelwal said.
Two emails received by Flipkart sellers in September, just days ahead of the inaugural phase of the festive sales, showed it offering to partly fund discounts.
The company would “burn” 3 percent of the discount if a seller lowered a product price by 15 percent, or 9 percent if the seller discounted by 30 percent, said one of the emails.
In training material posted on Flipkart’s restricted website for its sellers, seen by Reuters, the company asks them to prepare for the festive season by saying “nothing is bigger than this” and explaining how they can benefit by discounting products for Flipkart’s premium customers.
“We want to ensure that you fetch as much profit from it as possible ... whatever the discount you are offering, half of that will be reimbursed to you by Flipkart,” a post said.
A Flipkart source said the incentives were compliant with Indian regulations and were aimed at promoting sellers’ earnings by effectively reducing the commission they pay.
All India Online Vendors Association, whose 3,500 members sell products on various online platforms including Flipkart, in a statement said fewer than 100 of its members benefitted from Flipkart’s partial discount funding, giving some sellers an unfair advantage.