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TOYOTA, MATSUSHITA SET UP BATTERY DEAL

Toyota Motor Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said they have agreed to set up a joint venture to make nickel-metal hydride batteries for electric vehicles.

The companies said Matsushita would hold a 60 percent stake in the venture, named Panasonic EV Energy Co., and Toyota would own the rest.Toyota and Matsushita said that a combination of the two companies' technologies in battery research and production will speed the development of high-performance batteries.

The joint venture will also include Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. and Toyota Automatic Loom Works Ltd., and will start operations early next year. Toyota and Matsushita officials said the new company will aim at selling its batteries to electric vehicle makers worldwide.

With the new batteries, Toyota and Matsushita said they hope to set a global standard for nickel metal-hydride rechargeable batteries.