The global market for electric vehicle batteries could grow to $19 billion by 2010, and Japan’s Toshiba Corp. wants an ample piece of it. The electronics giant stepped up the race to supply rechargeable batteries to automakers with news that it plans to build a second factory for its rapid-charge lithium-ion battery. Toshiba designed the so-called SCiB (Super Charge ion Battery) for cars and industrial equipment. It expects construction of the plant to begin next fall, with batteries coming off the assembly line in 2010.
Today’s announcement comes just a week after more than a dozen U.S. tech companies formed a coalition in an effort to compete with dominant Asian battery makers. With Panasonic and Sanyo joining forces last week, and Toshiba staying on track with its production schedule, Japan’s powerhouses, at least, are ready for the American group.
Toshiba’s latest move confirms the game plan it laid out for the SCiB battery just over a year ago: “Application in hybrid cars is also planned,” the company said last December, “with the intent of extending application to electric cars in the future, after advancing development of a high-performance SCiB cell.” This fall, Toshiba snagged its first supply agreement for the battery in a deal with Schwinn for electric bicycles.
A city in northwest Japan, Kashiwazaki, ranks as Toshiba’s “primary candidate” for the new factory, according to today’s release. Kashiwazaki offers subsidies for green car technology, and has applied for recognition under Japan’s “PHEV town” program, which would qualify it for incentives to build out hybrid and electric vehicle infrastructure.