Ford Motor Co. COO Jim Padilla has complained that Japanese automakers are taking a "predatory approach" toward supplies of key components for hybrid vehicles, limiting Ford's ability to increase production.
Toyota Motor Corp. is bolstering his case.
The Japanese automaker last week boosted its stake in nickel-metal-hydride battery maker Panasonic EV Energy Co. from 40 to 60 percent. The move gives Toyota control of the company, the key supplier of hybrid batteries to Toyota and Ford.
Toyota says that by controlling Panasonic EV Energy it can help reduce battery costs and speed development of other cost-reducing technology breakthroughs.