Toyota Tsusho Corp, a trading company partially owned by the carmaker, stated that it would develop the Lithium Project in Argentina with Orocobre. The project is estimated to cost around $80-$100 million, Orocobre spokesman Paul Ryan told Reuters.
As electric or hybrid vehicles become more and more important on the auto market, the demand for batteries increases. Automotive producers usually choose the more expensive but also more efficient lithium-ion batteries in order to deliver better performance to the consumers. Thus, the Lithium demand is expected to increase.
Toyota’s Prius hybrid currently uses nickel-metal-hybrid batteries but the company has announced that it has decided to use lithium-ion batteries for future models. According to an earlier report by Nikkei via Reuters, the automaker has doubled its hybrid cars output target to 1 million units for 2011.
The rare metals business has spread even further, as the Japanese government-affiliated Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp is planning to acquire a part of Toyota Tsuho’s Lithium deal - a part of Japan’s efforts to secure stable sources of rare metals, government officials told Reuters.
"With other countries, such as China, investing in mines around the world, we want to be more aggressive to support the private sector in securing stable supplies," deputy director at Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy was quoted as saying by Reuters.