Panasonic may be known as a supplier to Tesla and more-often thought of as a personal electronics maker, but the Japanese giant is expanding its automotive focus with a battery venture in China.

The company will work with Dalian Levear Electric Company to start its automotive battery production in 2017. These are to be lithium-ion and will be exported overseas as well as supplied to China’s own auto industry.

The partnership is a 50/50 joint venture, and the official name will be Panasonic Automotive Energy Dalian Co., and it will be based in Dalian.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic To Provide Machinery For Tesla’s Battery Plant

China’s growing automotive market and advancing hybrid and EV technology, as well as the worldwide addition of new hybrid and EV models means there will be growing demand for batteries in the coming years.

Further, the search for longer range for EVs, PHEVs, and extended-range electric vehicles means that there will be a focus on research and development, as automakers look for superior batteries that extend range and charge faster.

SEE ALSO: Panasonic CEO: Tesla Capable of Producing 500,000 Cars In 2020

Sales of batteries and other vehicle components that could be categorized as environmental are expected to rise 67 percent to $6.23 billion by the spring of 2019.

Panasonic is estimating a 62-percent jump in automotive sales and 21-percent of its global sales to be automotive by that time frame then. At the end of the last fiscal year, in March 2015, Panasonic saw about 16 percent of its global sales be automotive.

Automotive News