i MiEV Electric Car to Have Second Battery Factory Because of High Demand


Photo: Mitsubishi
Lithium-ion Battery Factory to be Built in Kyoto
Last month, I wrote about how Mitsubishi was increasing planned production for its i MiEV electric car (which will be sold as Citroën and Peugeot in Europe) due to stronger demand than anticipated. But you can't make electric cars without a large enough supply of battery cells, so it is good news to learn that Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture between GS Yuasa, Mitsubishi Motors, and Mitsubishi Corp, will build a second battery factory to make more lithium-ion cells for the i MiEV. Read on for more details.
i MiEV Battery Pack. Photo: Mitsubishi
Green Car Congress writes:

The joint venture will spend ¥2-3 billion (US$21-32 million) to build the lithium-ion battery factory in Kyoto. This facility will reportedly have sufficient capacity to produce battery packs for 15,000 vehicles a year starting in the autumn of 2010.

Lithium Energy Japan had initially intended to produce cells for packs for up to 2,000 vehicles a year at GS Yuasa's main plant, in Kyoto, for a range of customers. In 2008, the company began construction on a factory in Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture, with eventual planned capacity for approximately 10,000 vehicles. At the time, the company said it was planning to add a second plant and double output by 2012.

Another benefit for Mitsubishi is that its supply chain for the i MiEV will be more diversified. Always good not to put all your eggs in one basket. It's probably also easier to increase battery cell production even further with two factories.

Question About Future Electric Car Battery Supply
One thing I've been wondering about for a while: Once electric cars are sold in bigger volumes, will each manufacturer (or small alliances..) try to produce its own batteries, or will a few companies come to dominate battery manufacturing and start making batteries for almost all car makers (kind of like how Intel makes computer chips for many companies)? If so, what would be the pros and cons of that? Of course, when it comes to very advanced technology, capital costs go up so a bigger company is hard to compete against, and economies of scales would help. But would this reduce competition and drive prices up?

Via Nikkei, Green Car Congress
More on the i MiEV Electric Car
Due to Demand, Mitsubishi Increases i MiEV Electric Car Production
Mitsubishi i MiEV Electric Car to be Sold as Citroën and Peugeot in Europe
Mitsubishi i-MiEV Electric Car to Go Global
i MiEV Electric Car to be Sold 1 Year Ahead of Schedule in Japan

Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Japan | Transportation