Business / Corporate

Toyota, Honda and Panasonic consider joint venture to procure cobalt for electric vehicles

Kyodo

Japan’s major auto and battery manufacturers, including Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Panasonic Corp., are considering joint procurement of cobalt, an essential resource for batteries that power electric vehicles, sources said Tuesday.

The envisioned joint venture is likely to be set up in a year or so, with each participating company buying a stake of up to around 10 percent, the sources said, at a time when Chinese companies are snapping up cobalt supplies around the world.

Nissan Motor Co., Suzuki Motor Corp., Mazda Motor Corp., Subaru Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. are also considering joining the initiative, with Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry backing the establishment of the joint company and negotiations with countries possessing cobalt mines, they said.

Analysts say that cobalt supplies could fall short of demand as early as 2020 as automakers around the world step up production of electric vehicles, especially in China and Europe, to meet stricter emissions regulations.

According to the industry ministry, 54 percent of the world’s cobalt supplies totaling 120,000 tons in 2016 came from Congo.

The ministry aims to make all new passenger cars in Japan fully or partly powered by electricity by 2050 to cut carbon dioxide emissions.