Toshiba to Enter Rechargeable Battery Market

Its SCiB battery can be fully recharged in five minutes and has lifespan of more than 10 years.

Toshiba Corp. announced plans on Dec. 11 to start selling rechargeable batteries next year, launching itself into what is seen as a promising but increasingly competitive market. Toshiba described the Super Charge ion Battery, or SCiB, as a "breakthrough rechargeable battery" that can be fully recharged in five minutes and has a lifespan of more than 10 years if completely run down and recharged once a day.

"The excellent performance of the SCiB will assure its successful application in industrial systems and in the electronic vehicles markets as a new energy solution," said Toshiba vice president Toshiharu Watanabe.

Japanese firms are vying to develop lithium-ion batteries that can be used in hybrid or electric vehicles, but there are safety concerns following recalls of millions of potentially flammable laptop computer batteries made by Sony Corp. Watanabe said Toshiba was satisfied that its battery was safe. "The possibility of the battery catching fire is extremely low and it will not explode even if it ruptures," he said.

The company expects to start shipping the battery from March 2008 and has set a global sales target of 100 billion yen (US$895 million) by the year to March 2016, by which it aims to have a market share of 10%.

Toshiba hopes the SCiB will be used in battery-powered bicycles, motorcycles, electric forklift trucks and construction machinery, all of which already use rechargeable batteries, Watanabe said. It also sees potential for their use in petrol-electric hybrid cars, pure electric vehicles and mobile telephones.

"Toshiba will ride with the trend set by automobile companies. When hybrids and electric cars become prevalent, the SCiB will probably be applied to them," said Toshiba general manager Shoshi Kawatsu, who oversees the project. "We will continue to advance development in this area so that when other companies launch their own batteries we will be ahead," he said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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