Panasonic to Invest $1.1 Billion in Battery Production in Japan

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Panasonic will embark on a big expansion of its Lithium Ion rechargeable battery production in December this year when it begins construction of a new factory that will eventually be able to produce 50 million cells per month, it said Wednesday.

The new plant, near Panasonic's headquarters in Osaka in western Japan, represents an investment of ¥100 billion (US$926 million) by the company and will begin its flagship site for rechargeable battery production.

The first-phase construction from December has as its aim the start of electrode production in October 2009 and the commencement of battery cell production in April 2010. At that time the factory will be capable of producing 300 million cells per year. Second-phase production, due on-stream in October 2011, will double this to 600 million cells per year, said Panasonic.

Additionally Panasonic plans to invest ¥23 billion to improve productivity at two existing plants in Osaka and nearby Wakayama.

Panasonic said demand for rechargeable batteries is increasing worldwide for use in devices like laptop computers and cell phones.

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