10-28-2009, 02:35 PM
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IHI, A123 Systems ally in lithium-ion batteries
TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's IHI Corp. said today it would start selling low-cost lithium ion batteries developed by U.S. company A123 Systems Inc. in Japan in 2010, as it looks to tap surging demand from electric vehicle producers and other manufacturers.
Government subsidies have boosted appetite for environmentally friendly cars in the country since they were launched in June.
IHI, a heavy machinery maker, said the batteries made by A123 are more cost competitive than rivals' because they do not use rare earth as a raw material.
The company plans to sell the batteries to carmakers, include them in its power supply systems and use them in ships, an IHI spokesman said.
A123 develops batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids and works with carmakers such as BMW, Chrysler Group LLC and General Motors Co.
Its shares jumped 50 percent on the day it debuted on the Nasdaq stock market last month.
Lithium-ion batteries are a hot area of investment for many Japanese companies.
Sanyo, the world's largest maker of rechargeable batteries and set to be taken over by Panasonic, is developing lithium-ion batteries for cars with Volkswagen AG.
Toshiba Corp. said on Tuesday that it would invest 25 billion yen ($273.7 million) to build a new lithium-ion battery plant in Japan.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. also plans to spend 10 billion yen to build a test plant for the production of lithium-ion batteries.
Nissan Motor Co. expects to start selling electric vehicles in Japan and the United States in 2010 and to start fully-fledged sales globally by the 2012 financial year.