Toyota Motor Corp is considering working with affiliate Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd to develop its electric vehicles, slated for a global launch in 2012, the Mainichi newspaper said on Tuesday.
Fuji Heavy, the maker of Subaru cars and held 16 percent by Toyota, has been an early mover on zero-emission electric cars, having started limited sales of its Plug-In Stella in Japan in June.
Since forming a capital tie-up, Toyota and Fuji Heavy have said they plan to cooperate on various technologies, including joint development of a compact rear-wheel-drive sports car using Subaru's signature symmetrical engine drivetrain.
The Mainichi said Toyota was eyeing technical data collected on the performance of the Subaru Plug-In Stella as it works toward its plan of rolling out an electric car based on the FT-EV microcar concept in Japan, Europe and the United States by 2012.
A Fuji Heavy spokesman said he was not aware of the reported move. Toyota said it could not immediately comment.
Citing an unidentified source, the paper said engineers working on electric cars at Fuji Heavy would merge with Toyota's electric car team. Fuji Heavy would shift its battery procurement in the future to Panasonic EV Energy, a battery joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic Corp, it said.
The Plug-In Stella currently buys its lithium-ion batteries from Automotive Energy Supply Corp, a joint venture between Nissan Motor Co and NEC Corp.
Shares in Fuji Heavy were up 4.4 percent at 331 yen in morning trade, mirroring a broad, sharp rise in other Japanese auto stocks. Toyota lagged with a 0.6 percent rise to 3,370 yen.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Joseph Radford)