Japanese battery manufacturers had an even greater role in meeting global hybrid and EV demand than did the country’s auto makers in 2012, commanding more than 90% of the market.

Primearth EV Energy was the leading producer with an estimated two-thirds of market share. The Toyota subsidiary manufactured an estimated 1.2 million units last year resulting in ¥160 billion ($1.6 billion) in sales.

The supplier is projecting 2013 sales of 1.3 million units. But as Primearth almost exclusively supplies NiMH batteries, its share will decline as global auto makers switch to Li-ion technology.

Besides Toyota, which accounts for more than 95% of sales, Primearth supplies Hino, Toyota’s truck-making subsidiary, and Allison Transmission. In February, it ended its supply agreement with General Motors for the auto maker’s fullsize pickup and SUV lineup, including the Chevrolet Tahoe and Silverado and Cadillac Escalade.

Panasonic, Japan’s leading manufacturer of NiMH and Li-ion batteries for all applications, reorganized its automotive battery operations in April under the name Panasonic Automotive & Industrial.

The supplier, which acquired Sanyo and Sanyo’s battery operations in 2009, delivers Li-ion batteries to Honda, Ford, Toyota, Audi, Tesla and Mazda.

Panasonic’s main customer is Honda, to which it supplies all Honda hybrids except the Civic, Acura ILX and Accord PHEV. In 2012, it delivered nearly 221,000 batteries.

Its second-largest customer was Ford, which purchased an estimated 20,000 batteries for its Fusion, C-Max and Lincoln MKZ full hybrids and Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi PHEVs.    

The C-Max, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi are new models, launched between September and February. The Fusion and MKZ hybrids are model changes; the first generation of each employed NiMH batteries from Sanyo.

Panasonic provides batteries to Toyota’s plug-in Prius and Prius v hybrids and Scion iQ EV; Mazda’s Demio and Tesla’s Model S EVs; and Audi’s Q5 Hybrid Quattro. It is scheduled to begin deliveries to Porsche for a PHEV version of the Panamera due out in 2014.

To Porsche and Volkswagen, it supplies the Cayenne S and Toureg hybrids, respectively. Panasonic batteries also are used in two diesel hybrids, Peugeot’s 3008 HYbrid 4 and Citroen’s DS5 Hybrid.

Panasonic makes NiMH batteries at its Sumoto plant, which can produce 3 million battery cells a month. Its main Li-ion battery plant, in Kasai, has monthly capacity of between 1.4 million and 1.5 million cells. Both facilities are operated by Sanyo, although organizationally they fall under Panasonic’s Automotive & Industrial Systems.

Hitachi Vehicle Energy plans a 75% increase in Li-ion battery capacity at its Hitachinaka plant to 600,000 cells a month in 2014. Current capacity is 340,000 cells.

Through a previous expansion in 2009, the supplier, a subsidiary of electronics giant Hitachi, shifted focus away from batteries for Isuzu hybrid trucks to mild-hybrid cars for GM cars, including the Buick LaCrosse and Regal, and Chevrolet Malibu Eco and Impala.

Hitachi’s 0.5-kWh batteries are used in GM’s “eAssist” system. The auto maker delivered 31,236 LaCrosse, Regal and Malibu Eco hybrids in its principal U.S. market in 2012. Impala sales launched in April. The company provided only 258 battery packs to Isuzu in 2012.

Without disclosing names, Hitachi says it will begin deliveries for a new hybrid car this autumn and a PHEVplug-in hybrid in late 2015.

Automotive Energy Supply, Nissan’s JV with NEC and NEC Tokin, opened its third plant in January. With factories now on line in Japan, the U.S. and the U.K., the supplier has capacity to produce Li-ion batteries for 330,000 EVs and hybrids.

Cumulative investment is estimated at $750 million.

In 2012, Automotive Energy delivered an estimated 32,500 battery packs to Nissan including both hybrids and EVs. Total sales, including batteries for alliance-partner Renault, were not disclosed.

The supplier scrapped plans to open a fourth plant in Aviero, Portugal, due to the economic downturn in Europe.

Blue Energy, Honda’s JV with GS Yuasa, opened a second line last autumn at its Osando plant in Fukuchiyama, raising capacity to 15 million cells. No investment amount was disclosed. The JV spent ¥25 billion ($247 million) to set up the first line at the facility that opened in December 2010. Capacity was 6 million cells.

Lithium Energy Japan, GS Yuasa’s JV with Mitsubishi, opened its fourth Li-ion battery plant last spring in Ritto, west of Kyoto, giving the supplier capacity to produce cells for 165,000 EV and PHEV battery packs.

Toshiba, which supplies 10-kWh batteries for short-range versions of the i-MiEV car and Minicab-MiEV electric van and truck, produced an estimated 4,000 battery packs in 2012 for

Honda’s Fit EV in addition to the Mitsubishi short-range EVs.

In July, Toshiba began delivering its SCiB lithium-titanate-oxide battery to Suzuki for the microhybrid system in the auto maker’s Wagon R and Wagon R Stingray models. The system, called Ene-Charge, powers the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning functions.

Toshiba, a leading Japanese electronics maker, opened a ¥25 billion ($247 million) SCiB battery line in February 2011 at its Kashiwazaki plant in Niigata prefecture. The plant is operating at about 50% of capacity, with production for the auto industry estimated at about 80%.