Sanyo Supplies Batteries to Six Automakers

Back in August, Sanyo Electric Co, the world's biggest maker of lithium ion cells, has completed construction of the “Kasai Green Energy Park” lithium-ion production facility in Hyogo, Japan. The plant has a production capacity of up to one million battery cells per month and will yield most of Sanyo's automotive battery production, but if the company's forecasts are correct, that won't be enough to meet the demand.

Sanyo has contracts to supply lithium ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles to six automakers, but would not divulge the companies' names, except for Volkswagen and Suzuki.

"To be exact, there are six automotive companies, only for lithium ion batteries," said Mitsuru Homma, the head of Sanyo's energy division. "Of course we supply nickel-metal hydride batteries to a couple of manufacturers," he added.

Homma said that automakers would use the batteries in both hybrid and all-electric vehicles, but he added that electric vehicles would take more time because of lack of infrastructure.

Panasonic is in the process of acquiring Sanyo to accelerate its push into greener businesses. Last year, Panasonic Corp. bought a 50 percent stake in Sanyo, to gain control of the world's top maker of rechargeable batteries used in electronics and cars. The electronics maker believes that the acquisition will be complete by April 2011.

Sanyo aims for a 30 to 40 percent share of the eco-friendly vehicle batteries market by 2020. Homma believes that the whole Panasonic group will take an even larger share of the global market estimated at 1.5 trillion yen (US $18 billion).
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