Japan's Sanyo Electric to Build New Battery Plant

New facility part of company's plan to expand environmental-related technology offerings.

Japan's Sanyo Electric Co. said July 3 it will build a new domestic plant as part of plans to boost its output of lithium-ion batteries by 30%.

Sanyo will build the new plant in Minami Awaji City, western Japan, to produce batteries mainly for use in personal computers, according to company spokeswoman Yuko Hosaka. The plant will be operational in early 2009.

Investors welcomed the news, with the price of Sanyo shares jumping 4.27% to by lunch on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Combined with output at another plant set to go into operation in early 2009 in Kaizuka City, western Japan, Sanyo's production capacity of lithium-ion batteries will reach 90 million cells a month, she said.

That would mark a 30% increase from the current level, she said.

The company declined to say how much it would spend on the new plants. The Nikkei economic daily reported the same day that Sanyo will invest a total of US$509 million in the two new facilities.

Sanyo is seeking to enhance its leadership in the global rechargeable battery market in the face of competition from Sony Corp. and South Korea's Samsung, the daily said.

The move was part of Sanyo's strategy of focusing on rechargeable batteries and environment-related technology, the spokeswoman said.

Sanyo reported its first annual net profit in four years in the year to March after drastic streamlining.

Sanyo has slashed thousands of jobs and sold non-core operations as part of a massive overhaul in recent years, while increasing its focus on rechargeable and solar power batteries.

Sanyo is also teaming up with German automaker Volkswagen AG to develop a lithium-ion battery for next-generation hybrid vehicles.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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