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Honda and Panasonic join forces on portable lithium-ion battery

Cell to power motorbikes, cars and robots -- plus households in emerging Asia

Panasonic considers automotive batteries central to its global strategy, while Honda is looking to deepen cross-industry partnerships.

TOKYO -- Honda Motor is partnering with Panasonic to develop a detachable, portable lithium-ion battery that can be used for cars, motorcycles, robots and other purposes.

The companies also plan to supply the batteries as a power source in emerging countries, mainly in Asia, where electric infrastructure is still insufficient.

Honda, the world's top motorcycle manufacturer, is seeking deeper cross-industry relationships as the automotive industry transitions to new technologies. Looking to build on its motorbike and car operations, the company has made "energy" and "robotics" pillars of its mid- to long-term business plan for 2030, along with "mobility."

This fall, Honda intends to release electric motorcycles equipped with the removable battery.

Panasonic, meanwhile, is one of the largest battery suppliers and is the sole supplier to U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Automotive batteries are central to its global strategy.

Panasonic has also considered partnering with Toyota Motor on electric vehicle batteries. But it reckons cooperation with Honda will lead to a broader range of uses -- motorbikes and household power supply among them.

As environmental regulations tighten worldwide, electric vehicles are expected to catch on in emerging countries in the future. Right now, however, these countries lack the power infrastructure necessary to support charging of these vehicles.

Detachable batteries need to be charged, too, of course. The two companies aim to expand a network of stations that store renewable wind or solar power and provide juice. Consumers will not need to wait around for charges -- they will simply exchange their spent batteries for fresh ones. 

This endeavor will draw on Panasonic's experience in solar energy and storage technologies.

Honda and Panasonic will also develop tech that enables the same battery to be used in multiple ways. They have started tests in Indonesia, in which the batteries can be removed from motorcycles and used at home for lighting or charging smartphones.

The partners also plan to collect information on battery usage with information technology, hoping to promote efficient energy management and improve quality.  

Nikkei staff writer Eri Sugiura contributed to this article.

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