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Toshiba Develops Battery Systems With Mitsubishi Motors

Date: 05-Jul-10
Country: JAPAN
Author: Nobuhiro Kubo and Sachi Izumi

Japan's Toshiba Corp said on Friday it is developing lithium-ion battery systems with Mitsubishi Motors Corp, as the battle heats up among electronics makers to take a slice of the growing green car market.

The global push for clean energy and emission-free cars is encouraging automakers to team up with multiple battery makers to secure enough supplies of the key parts for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

With more competition, automakers are also hoping to lower the prices of batteries.

Toshiba, which sees its battery business as one of its key growth areas, said it and Mitsubishi are preparing final testing on the battery systems but it has not officially won the deal.

The Nikkei business daily reported earlier that Mitsubishi will procure Toshiba batteries for its new small electric cars, which are designed for short-distance travel and will be launched by fiscal 2012 for less than 2 million yen ($22,810).

A Mitsubishi spokesman said Toshiba is one of the suppliers it might procure batteries from, but nothing has been decided. Mitsubishi also has a battery venture with GS Yuasa Corp.

French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen Group, which will jointly develop the vehicle with Mitsubishi, is also expected to procure batteries from Toshiba through the Japanese automaker, the Nikkei said.

Toyota Motor Corp is in battery deals with Panasonic Corp and Sanyo Electric Co, while Nissan Motor Co and NEC Corp are developing batteries for electric vehicles together.

General Motors has chosen Hitachi Ltd and South Korea's LG Chem as suppliers.

Toshiba is building a new lithium-ion battery plant in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, slated to begin operations early next year. It has also won a deal to provide batteries for Honda Motor's electric motorcycles.

Toshiba shares gained 1.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Motors shares were down 0.9 percent. The Nikkei average was up 0.5 percent.

(Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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