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-Nikkei@ (Adds background)
TOKYO, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp has started using batteries that Panasonic Corp designed for Tesla Inc in some of its plug-in hybrids sold in China, the Nikkei business daily reported on Friday.
Toyota is using Panasonic's cylindrical batteries in its new Corolla and Levin plug-in hybrid sedans launched in China this year, the Nikkei said, without citing sources.
Toyota, which also uses Panasonic's prismatic batteries for hybrids, is believed to have ordered about 50,000 of the cylindrical batteries, as the automaker struggles to secure stable supplies of high-quality batteries to meet growing demand, the paper said.
A Panasonic spokeswoman said the company was not in a position to comment as a supplier, while Toyota declined to comment.
The two companies announced a joint venture in January to build electric-vehicle (EV) batteries, pooling the R&D and manufacturing strengths of one of the world's largest automakers with one of the largest battery makers.
Toyota has also partnered with China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) and EV maker BYD Co Ltd for battery procurement to meet the accelerated global shift to electricity-powered cars.
Orders from Toyota for cylindrical batteries are boosting Panasonic's battery plant in Osaka to full capacity, the Nikkei said.
Panasonic has been the exclusive battery cell supplier for Tesla, but the U.S. electric vehicle maker is in advanced talks with South Korea's LG Chem Ltd as it seeks to diversify sources of the key component.
(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Kevin Buckland; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim and Stephen Coates)