OSAKA — Honda Motor Co. and Sanyo Electric Co. have agreed to jointly develop nickel-hydrogen batteries for use in Honda hybrid automobiles, Sanyo officials said Friday.

Honda is expected to introduce hybrid vehicles using the batteries in two to three years, the officials said. Hybrids are propelled by both an electric motor and a gasoline engine.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius car, the first production hybrid vehicle, uses batteries developed by Panasonic EV Energy Co., a member of the corporate group led by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

Sanyo wants to beat Matsushita to become the top supplier of batteries for hybrid cars on the strength of its new alliance with Honda, they said.

Honda earlier put two types of hybrids on the market, the Insight and the Civic Hybrid, using batteries developed by Panasonic EV Energy.

The automaker wants to increase the fuel efficiency and other characteristics of batteries for its hybrid cars through its technical cooperation with Sanyo, known for its expertise in cell phone batteries, industry sources said.

Sanyo entered a cooperative arrangement with Ford Motor Co. in January 2001 to develop batteries for use in Ford’s hybrid cars.

Sanyo hopes to control a 50 percent share of the global hybrid battery market in 2005 and post sales of 50 billion yen by pressing ahead with cooperation with Honda and Ford, the Sanyo officials said.

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