The Wall Street Journal yesterday, January 19, 2010, reported  that:
“A key supplier of Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) moved to secure a long-term source of lithium in Argentina, in one of the first global natural-resource plays of the electric-car age.”
Today, January 20, 2010, it has been disclosed that the same Toyota “supplier” has also extended its discussions with Canada’s Great Western Minerals Group for the exploration and development of that company’s two heavy rare earth rich properties in northern Saskatchewan. The press release from the company begins:
“Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. announced today that, at the request of Toyota Tsusho Corporation (Tokyo Stock Exchange – “8015T”; Nagoya Stock Exchange – “8015NG”), it has extended the expiry date of the non-binding letter of intent (the “Letter of Intent”) between Great Western Minerals Group Ltd (“GWMG” or the “Company”) and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (“TTC”), originally announced in the Company’s news release of July 21, 2009.
If you now recall that last year this same Toyota “supplier” entered into an agreement with the government of Vietnam to explore and develop the rare earth elements deposits at Dong Pao in Vietnam you see a pattern. Toyota is moving aggressively to secure its long term supplies of the critical metals for the electrification of the private motor vehicle.
Toyota is both hedging its bets and securing its future ability to manufacture any of the currently used or proposed technologies for the power trains of electrified motor vehicles.
It is the only OEM automotive company in the world with such an actual degree of vertical integration. Toyota today designs and builds both its own nickel metal hydride batteries for its full hybrid Prius type power train, and the lithium-ion batteries it is testing as well. Its actions in securing supplies of the critical metals both for batteries and electric motors (rare earths and lithium) show that the company is clearly committed to continue manufacturing any and every viable technology for the electrification of motor vehicles. Toyota’s actions are also a vote for the steady development of electrified vehicles by an experienced and profitable mass manufacturer.
Clearly any resource company in which Toyota invests must go to the top of the list of such companies in the probability of commercial success category.
Clearly Toyota is the leading OEM automotive manufacturer in terms of long term strategic planning.
Disclosure: I do not own shares in any company mentioned in this article, nor am I employed by them in any capacity.