CAMBRIDGE, MA – Toyota Motor intends to expand its presence in the electric car market with a full-scale production of lithium-ion batteries in 2010. The company currently uses nickel-metal hydride batteries in its hybrids vehicles like the Prius, which it launched more than a decade ago. Toyota plans to start limited production of the battery in 2009, and then move to full-scale production in 2010, according to

Panasonic EV Energy, a joint venture between Toyota and Matsushita Electric Industrial, will make the batteries.

The company also plans to speed up the development of "small electric vehicles" for mass production, but hasn't revealed when that would be.

To support its electric vehicle efforts, Toyota said it will create a research department by the end of the year to advance a next-generation battery that can outperform lithium-ion.