Japanese battery manufacturers add capacity to meet EV demand

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi, GM and Ford increase use of lithium-ion batteries



The "eQ" to be launched by Toyota in or after December 2012, powered by Panasonic's 12 kWh lithium-ion battery, has achieved the world's highest "electric power consumption rate" of 104 Wh/km.

 Reported below is a summary of the present status and future plans of development, production and supply by Japanese manufacturers of batteries for electrified vehicles, including those for some start/stop systems that use lithium-ion batteries.

 In terms of sales volumes in 2012, Toyota and Honda are the two leading names of electrified vehicles, especially the HVs (Hybrid electric vehicles) that use nickel metal hydride batteries. In September 2012, the cumulative production of nickel metal hydride and other batteries by Primearth EV Energy, 80.5% owned by Toyota, reached enough quantities for five million vehicles.

 Only six models of electrified vehicles fitted with lithium-ion batteries were sold by Japanese OEMs as of the end of 2011 (see Note). More HVs, EVs (Electric vehicles) and PHV (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) are launched or slated for market launch from 2012 on by Japanese and foreign OEMs.

 To meet the increasing demand, the manufacturers of batteries for electrified vehicles are strengthening their production facilities. In particular, Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) and Blue Energy are increasing their capacities significantly.

 Some manufacturers are starting production of batteries overseas. Nissan is starting volume production of lithium-ion batteries in the US and the UK toward the end of 2012. Hitachi Vehicle Energy has plans to produce battery modules in the US. Panasonic will produce nickel metal hydride batteries in Slovakia.

 Toyota and Honda had announced plans to produce EVs and HVs, including batteries, motors and other key components, in the US and China. Panasonic is studying the feasibility of producing automotive batteries in China. A close collaboration with overseas customers is becoming vital in the development and production of batteries. This trend will be accelerated also as a way to hedge the risk of high appreciation of the yen.

 Eliiy Power (partnered with Suzuki), IHI (its US partner, A123 Systems, has filed for bankruptcy protection but its automotive battery division will be taken over by Johnson Controls), Murata Manufacturing (has already acquired necessary technology from Enax), Sony and a few other companies have announced or otherwise been reported as planning to enter the automotive battery markets.

 The companies that are already selling electrified vehicles, namely Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mitsubishi, are each partnered with battery manufacturers. They are also buying batteries from other battery manufacturers as well to reduce costs and to buy batteries from a wider range of sources that meet their specific vehicle specifications.

(Note) The six models are Mitsubishi's i-MiEV, MINICAB MiEV, Nissan's Leaf, Fuga, Honda's Civic (sold in overseas markets exclusively) and Toyota's Prius α (3-row seat version).

Related reports:
HV/EV launch plans by Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and Daihatsu (posted in September, 2012)
EV/HV/PHV launch plans by Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Suzuki (posted in October 2012)

Increased production plans in Japan and overseas by manufacturers of batteries for electrified vehicles

When Description
Japan LEJ Spring
 The completion of the second phase of the Ritto plant construction will raise LEJ's total annual capacity to an equivalent of approximately 150,000 units of Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Blue Energy Fall 2012  Tripling annual capacity of the Osadano plant in Kyoto Prefecture from 5 million to 15 million cells to ready for the Honda Accord HV/PHV launch.
Overseas Nissan October
 Producing lithium-ion batteries for up to 200,000 electrified vehicles a year at the Smyrna plant in the US.
End of
 Will start producing lithium-ion batteries for up to 60,000 electrified vehicles a year at the Sunderland plant in the UK.
Hitachi Vehicle
 Will start producing lithium-ion battery modules at the Harrodsburg plant in Kentucky, US. The modules will reportedly be used in GM's eAssist vehicles and Nissan's front-wheel drive HVs.
Panasonic As early
as fall
 Will start, in the fall of 2012 at the earliest, production of nickel metal hydride batteries at a plant in Slovakia for supply to VW group companies (cells will be shipped from Japan and assembled locally).
 Panasonic is producing lithium-ion batteries for consumer devices at three plants in China, and is said to be considering producing batteries for automotive use as well.

(Note) LEJ(Lithium Energy Japan): 51% owned by GS Yuasa, 4.4% by Mitsubishi Motors, Blue Energy: 51% owned by GS Yuasa, 49% by Honda, Hitachi Vehicle Energy: 65% owned by Hitachi.

Four Japanese OEMs and GM/Ford buying lithium-ion batteries from plural sources

Toyota Vehicle Prius α Prius PHV EV "eQ"
Supplier PEVE/Panasonic Panasonic Panasonic
Nissan Vehicle Leaf Fuga/Cima HV Front-wheel drive HV
Supplier AESC AESC Hitachi Vehicle Energy
Honda Vehicle Civic HV Fit EV CR-Z HV Accord HV/PHV
Supplier Blue Energy Toshiba Blue Energy Blue Energy
Supplier LEJ/Toshiba LEJ/Toshiba Toshiba
GM Vehicle Chevrolet Volt eAssist vehicles Chevrolet Spark EV
Supplier LG Chem Hitachi Vehicle Energy A123 Systems
Ford Vehicle Focus EV C-Max HV/PHV Fusion HV/PHV Lincoln MKZ HV
Supplier LG Chem Panasonic Panasonic Panasonic

(Note) PEVE(Primearth EV Energy): 80.5% owned by Toyota, AESC(Automotive Energy Supply Corporation): 51% owned by Nissan.

Primearth EV Energy: Cumulative battery production reaches for five million electrified vehicles in September 2012

 In August 2011, Primearth EV Energy (PEVE) began full-capacity production of nickel metal hydride batteries for the Prius α (two-row type) and lithium-ion batteries for the Prius α (three-row type). In November 2011, the company began producing nickel metal hydride batteries for the small Aqua HV.

 PEVE is the world-largest manufacturer of automotive batteries. Its cumulative production reached an enough quantity for four million vehicles in November 2011 and for five million vehicles in September 2012.


Panasonic: Supplying for Ford, Tesla Motors, and VW Group as well

 Panasonic consolidated Sanyo Electric to strengthen its automotive battery business. Today, Panasonic is supplying lithium-ion batteries for Toyota, Ford, Tesla Motors and VW Group and nickel metal hydride batteries for Honda.

Panasonic: Supplying batteries for Toyota Prius PHV and eQ EV

Toyota Prius
PHV and eQ
 Panasonic's lithium-ion batteries, developed by the former Sanyo Electric, are supplied or to be supplied for the Prius PHV launched by Toyota in January 2012, and the eQ EV being launched after December. HVs require power-oriented batteries while PHVs/EVs require capacity-oriented batteries. The new batteries are based on the former Sanyo Electric's batteries that belong to the capacity type.
 Lithium-ion batteries supplied for the Prius PHV have 4.4 kWh capacity, per-charge range of 24.4 to 26.4 km, and a PHV combined cycle fuel efficiency of 57.2 to 61.0 km/liter (JC08 mode).
 The batteries supplied for the eQ EV are small with a 12 kWh capacity but have achieved the world-highest AC electric power consumption rate of 104 Wh/km along with the per-charge range of 100 km and the maximum speed of 125 km/h. Full-charge with a 200 VAC outlet requires only 3 hours approximately.


Supplying lithium-ion batteries for Ford and Tesla Motors

Four models
by Ford
 Panasonic will supply rectangular lithium-ion batteries for four vehicle models being launched by Ford in the fall of 2012 to early 2013, including two HV models (Fusion and C-Max) and two PHV models (Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi). Batteries will be shipped in the form of stacks (sets of batteries) for the sake of shipping efficiency and reliability.
 Nickel metal hydride batteries supplied by the former Sanyo Electric were used in the Ford Escape HV since 2004 and in the Ford Fusion/Lincoln MKZ HV afterwards.
Model S
by Tesla Motors
 Panasonic will supply the 18650-type lithium-ion batteries for more than 80,000 units of Tesla Motors' second model, Model S, as it did for the first model, the Roadster, in four years (announced in October 2011). The batteries for the Model S have approximately thirty percent higher energy density than those for the Roadster. In 2009, Panasonic invested 30 million dollars in Tesla Motors.


Supplying lithium-ion batteries for VW Group, producing nickel metal hydride batteries in Slovakia

Supplying batteries
for Audi HVs
 Panasonic (the former Sanyo Electric Division) supplies 1.3 kWh capacity lithium-ion batteries for the Q5/A8/A6 HVs launched by Audi from the end of 2011 to 2012. The three hybrid models use the identical HV system that comprises lithium-ion batteries, 2000cc direct-injection turbo engine and 33 kW motor.
nickel metal
hydride batteries
in Slovakia
 Panasonic will build a new plant in Slovakian capital city Bratislava (where VW's assembly plant is located), in the fall of 2012 at the earliest, and start producing nickel metal hydride batteries for the VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, and Porsche Panamera HVs by VW Group. This will mark Panasonic first overseas production of batteries for automotive use. Panasonic has been supplying, for HVs by VW, nickel metal hydride batteries developed by the former Sanyo Electric.
 Initially the cells will be produced in Japan and exported to the Slovakian plant where control circuits and electric components will be assembled for completion. Panasonic used to produce automotive batteries in its plants in Japan exclusively as a way to prevent technology drain. It is said the company has decided to switch to overseas production because of the growing need of closer collaboration with its clients in battery designs and other details.
Panasonic: Developing lithium-ion batteries for EV use jointly with SEAT of the VW Group
Developing batteries
for SEAT EVs
 In November 2011, Panasonic (former Sanyo Electric), SEAT, a Spanish corporation, and Ficosa, a Spanish parts supplier, reached an agreement regarding a joint development of lithium-ion batteries for the EVs to be developed and launched by SEAT in a year or two. Panasonic will produce battery cells and packs and Ficosa will assemble them in its plant in Barcelona.


Considering producing automotive lithium-ion batteries in China

Increasing production of lithium-ion batteries for consumer devices  In July 2012, Panasonic celebrated the completion of a new lithium-ion battery plant at the Suzhou plant in China. The new plant will produce lithium-ion batteries for consumer devices and a variety of battery packs. The company plans to increase capacities of the existing plants in Wuxi and Beijing to raise the ratio of production of lithium-ion batteries for consumer devices in China from 20% in the world in 2011 to 50% in 2013.
Considering production of automotive batteries  It was said Panasonic would keep domestic production of high-value added items such as automotive batteries for HVs. The company is now considering producing them in China as its customers, namely Toyota and VW, have announced decisions to produce their HVs and EVs in China. Panasonic may start production in China in 2014 at the earliest (reported in January 2012).



Nissan: Starting lithium-ion battery production in US and UK at the end of 2012

 Nissan will produce lithium-ion batteries enough to fit 200,000 Leaf EVs/year at the Smyrna plant in the US starting in October 2012, and produce up to 150,000 Leaf EVs/year starting in December. Nissan will invest 1.6 billion dollars in total, including the 1.4 billion dollar low-interest loan from the DOE.

 This seems quite bullish a figure judging from Nissan's vehicle sales performance in the US (9,674 units in 2011 and 5,212 units in January-September 2012) although Nissan claims it is a decision based on a "medium- to long-range outlook." In addition, all batteries were shipped from Japan and Nissan was curbing exporting the Leaf from Japan to minimize the effect of the yen's high appreciation and the company is looking forward to a positive impact of local production.

 Nissan will start production of lithium-ion batteries enough to fit 60,000 EVs/year at the Sunderland plant in the UK for Nissan and Renault at the end of 2012, and start production of up to 50,000 Leafs/year in February 2013. Nissan will invest 420 million pounds in total, including the 220 million Euro low-interest loan from the European Investment Bank.


NEC: New electrodes and electrolytes developed that lead to 30% increase in EV range

 NEC has developed positive electrodes and electrolytes capable of increasing the vehicle's EV range by 30%. NEC will complete them for commercial application within two years and supply them to Automotive Energy Supply established jointly with Nissan.

 The newly-developed electrodes will be supplied also to GS Yuasa.

Positive electrode material  The conventional spinel type lithium manganese oxides (LiMn2O4) are partially replaced by nickel to get Li(Ni0.5Mn1.5) O4. The new material raises the voltage level from 3.8 to 4.5 volts which, in turn, raises the energy density from approximately 150 Wh/kg to 200 Wh/kg. Assuming an EV range of 200 km on the existing EVs, the new material is capable of extending the EV range by 30% to 260 km, providing that the battery weight remains the same.
Electrolyte  When the conventional carbonate-type solvent is used with the newly-developed positive electrode, the resulting voltage will be too high which will cause oxidative decomposition and eventually shorten the battery life. NEC managed to develop a fluorinated solvent to suppress oxidative decomposition.



Hitachi Vehicle Energy: Producing lithium-ion battery modules in the US


Producing battery modules in the US  Hitachi Vehicle Energy has built a new plant building in the premises of Hitachi Automotive Systems plant in Harrodsburg in Kentucky, US. A line for producing lithium-ion battery modules has been installed there to start trial production in November 2012. Battery cells will initially be exported from Japan while the company will consider producing them locally.
 Hitachi Vehicle Energy develops lithium-ion batteries chiefly for HVs and partially for PHVs. The lithium-ion batteries are supplied for the "eAssist" mild HV system available since 2011 with GM's Buick LaCrosse/Regal and Chevrolet Malibu. It is said the lithium-ion batteries used in the front-wheel drive HVs to be released by Nissan for sale in the US in 2013 will also be shipped from the Harrodsburg plant (elaborated below).
HV system for Nissan's front-wheel drive vehicles  Nissan will adopt Hitachi-made lithium-ion batteries in the front-wheel drive Altima and Pathfinder HVs being released in the US in 2013. Nissan is procuring batteries from Automotive Energy Supply for the Leaf EV and the rear-wheel drive Fuga (Infiniti M) /Cima HVs. It is said Nissan plans to reduce costs and risks by supply source diversification.
 It has been reported that the lithium-ion batteries to be supplied by Hitachi for Nissan will be a fourth-generation battery with the output density increased to 4,500 W/kg (from the 3,000 W/kg output density of the third-generation battery being supplied for GM).



Lithium Energy Japan: Building annual capacity for approximately 150,000 units of the i-MiEV by the spring of 2013

 The first phase of the Ritto plant construction of Lithium Energy Japan (capitalized by GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corporation) was completed in March 2012 with annual capacity of producing batteries for 50,000 units of Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The second phase of construction will be completed in the spring of 2013 with a resulting capacity of enough batteries for 75,000 i-MiEVs/year. When the plant is completed, the company will have one of the largest capacities in the world, including those at the existing plants in Kusatsu and Kyoto, with a total capacity in equivalent of LEV50 batteries of approximately 12.5 million cells (150,000 vehicles).

 LEJ will supply its batteries for EVs and PHVs produced by automakers in Japan and overseas alike.

Plant (Location) Kusatsu Plant
(Shiga Pref.)
Kyoto Plant
(Kyoto Pref.)
Ritto I Plant
(Shiga Pref.)
Ritto II Plant
(Shiga Pref.)
Annual production capacity
in terms of i-MiEV vehicles
6,800 vehicles 11,000 vehicles 50,000 vehicles 75,000 vehicles
Capital investment ¥7.5 billion ¥6.7 billion ¥37.5 billion ¥30.0 billion
Shipment start June 2009 December 2010 March 2012 Spring 2013

(Note) Mitsubishi Motors that receives supply of lithium-ion batteries from LEJ will launch mini truck EV, "MINICAB MiEV TRUCK", and the Outlander PHV in FY2012 and will also launch seven electrified vehicles in FY2014-2016. According to LEJ, the company has received orders for its batteries from automakers other than Mitsubishi Motors as well.



Blue Energy: Tripling production to stand ready for Honda Accord HV/PHV launch

 In February 2011, Blue Energy, jointly established by Honda and GS Yuasa in April 2009, began production of lithium-ion batteries for the Civic HV sold in the US at the new Osadano plant in Fukuchiyama, Kyoto.

 The company will increase the plant's capacity and supply its batteries for the new Accord HV/PHV being launched in the US by Honda around the fall of 2012 to early 2013.

Beefing up
Osadano plant
 Blue Energy's Osadano plant in Kyoto is producing 5 million lithium-ion battery cells a year (enough for 125,000 vehicles) for the Civic HV that are shipped to the US. The company is investing approximately 10 billion yen in the fall of 2012 to install two new lines and triple its annual capacity to 15 million cells to stand ready for the start of production of the Accord HV/PHV.
for the CR-Z
 In September 2012, the Honda CR-Z sold in the Japanese market received a minor face-lift which included replacing the conventional nickel metal hydride batteries with lithium-ion batteries. The battery pack's output voltage was increased from 100 to 144 volts and the motor output was also increased from 10 to 15 kW.
 The new CR-Z features the available "PLUS SPORT System" that instantly increases the engine and motor revolutions for more powerful acceleration. The conventional nickel metal hydride batteries do not have enough capacity for the system and were replaced with lithium-ion batteries that have better charge-discharge characteristics. As a result, the JC08 fuel efficiency (CVT model) increased from 22.8 km/liter to 23.0 km/liter.



Toshiba: Supplying lithium-ion batteries for the Honda Fit EV and Mitsubishi i-MiEV/MINICAB MiEV

Toshiba: Supplying batteries for Honda EVs and electric motorcycles

Honda electric motorcycle "EV-neo"  Toshiba's lithium-ion battery SCiB was chosen to power Honda's electric motorcycle "EV-neo" released for lease to general users in April 2011. The SCiB was preferred because of the durability and fast charging performance. The EV-neo has a per-charge range of 34 km (tested at the constant speed of 30 km/h on flat surfaces).
Honda Fit EV  Toshiba supplies lithium-ion batteries with 20 kWh capacity for Honda's Fit EV. The Fit EV was released for lease to limited users in the US in June and in Japan in August 2012. Honda plans to lease 200 units in two years in Japan and 1,100 units in the US in three years.
 The Fit EV marked the then-best energy efficiency in Japan and the US alike (AC energy consumption rate, or energy efficiency, of 29 kWh/100 miles and gasoline equivalency of 118 MPG-e in the US).
Taking part in Honda's Smart Community Project  Toshiba will take part in the Smart Home System demonstration being promoted by Honda in the city of Saitama (announced in September 2012). The energy management systems of the two companies will be adopted toward energy optimization in Smart Homes. Toshiba will also study the feasibility of reusing the SCiB batteries removed from EVs.
Battery packs
for Denso's
start/stop systems
 Denso has developed a battery pack for start/stop systems using Toshiba's lithium-ion batteries. Suzuki fitted the battery pack in the Wagon R released for sale in September 2012. The battery pack comprises battery cells, battery management unit and power switch. The pack adopts the natural air-cooling system that does not require a cooling device and is compact and lightweight in design (200 by 178 by 70 mm, weighing 2.5 kg).
 The battery pack uses two batteries, the ordinary lead battery and a lithium-ion battery. More energy can be stored more quickly in a lithium-ion battery than in the lead battery. The regenerated and stored energy is supplied to electric components to suppress generation by the alternator (driven by the engine). This contributes to increasing the vehicle's fuel efficiency.


Mitsubishi i-MiEV and MINICAB-MiEV fitted with LEJ and Toshiba batteries respectively

Entry-level M Higher-level G CD
10.5 kWh
16.0 kWh
Debut July 2011 August 2011 November 2011 Early 2013
Rated capacity 10.5 kWh 16.0 kWh 10.5 kWh 16.0 kWh 10.5 kWh
Range/charge (JC08-cycle) 120 km 180 km 100 km 150 km 110 km
Supplier Toshiba LEJ Toshiba LEJ Toshiba
Actual price after receipt of subsidy ¥1,880,000 ¥2,840,000 ¥1,730,000 ¥2,020,000 yet-to-be announced

Source: Mitsubishi's online catalogs as of mid-October 2012
(Note) The MINICAB MiEV TRUCK being launched in early 2013 is fitted exclusively with Toshiba's 10.5 kWh batteries  assuming that the truck will be used primarily for short distance (16.0 kWh batteries may be considered if need arises).


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Exploring potential customers for stationary and mobile batteries

 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has developed the "MLiX" series of lithium-ion batteries consisting of the 50-type batteries for stationary use (nominal capacity 50 Ah, maximum current 300 A), 40-type batteries for mobile use (40 Ah, 500 A) and 20-type batteries for applications requiring a slim design (20 Ah, 300 A). MHI is seeking customers for its batteries. In December 2011, MHI delivered one of the largest lithium-ion batteries for indoor installations in Japan (output 100 kW, capacity 60 kWh) to Shimizu Corporation's Institute of Technology.

 In June 2012, the MLiX batteries for mobile use were fitted in an all-electric, battery-operated demonstration bus in Manitoba, Canada. The MLiX batteries were also used in Team APEV's EV racing car that entered the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb 2012 event held in July in Colorado, US.


Eliiy Power: Entering automotive lithium-ion battery markets under partnership with Suzuki

Suzuki invests
in Eliiy Power
 In April 2012, Suzuki invested 1 billion yen in a lithium-ion battery manufacturer, Eliiy Power that was allocating new shares to third parties. The two companies announced they would start joint development of batteries for EV application. The base for joint development was established in Eliiy Power's technical center located in the city of Otsu.
Joint development  In June 2012, Eliiy Power's new plant was completed in Kawasaki with an annual capacity of a million cells. The company now has a capacity to produce 1.2 million cells combined with that of the existing plant adjacent to the new plant. Eliiy Power mainly produces large lithium-ion batteries for office and residential use. Judging that their batteries may be applied to electrified vehicles alike, the company will join hands with Suzuki to accumulate necessary know-how through development and demonstration efforts toward commercialization of new batteries in 2014 if all goes as expected.



IHI: Exploring Japanese markets for batteries for stationary and automotive use

 In November 2009, IHI formed partnership with a US lithium-ion battery manufacturer, A123 Systems. In 2011, IHI invested 25 million dollars and concluded a technical licensing agreement. The company began producing battery packs for industrial application in 2012 (using cells supplied by A123 Systems). In March, IHI delivered lithium-ion storage systems (83 units in total) to 33 fire departments in Tokyo.

 IHI is also keen about entering the automotive battery markets. It has already shipped samples to manufacturers of heavy-duty commercial vehicles and expects a 30 billion yen in sales in 2015 from a lithium-ion battery business.

 In October 2012, A123 Systems, IHI's US partner, filed with the State of Delaware bankruptcy court for protection under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. A123 Systems will sell all its automotive division assets (with the court approval) to Johnson Controls for 125 million dollars. Therefore, agreements between IHI and A123 Systems will likely be inherited by Johnson Controls.


Murata Manufacturing: Starting lithium-ion battery production in 2013 at the earliest

 In 2006, a technical licensing agreement was concluded for Murata Manufacturing to receive lithium-ion battery technologies from Enax. Murata has since been developing batteries using a small-lot trial production line prepared in its Yasu Division. Murata may start, in 2013 at the earliest, production of high-capacity laminated cells foreseeing demands for automotive and storage applications. The company is striving to establish volume production technology eyeing a new plant construction in a few years.


References: Manufacturers' press releases and newspaper reports

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