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3rd UPDATE: Toshiba, Mitsubishi Motors Developing Electric Car Batteries

TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Toshiba Corp. (6502.TO) said Friday it is jointly developing car battery systems with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. (7211.TO), and hopes to eventually supply rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for Mitsubishi electric cars.

Toshiba said the companies have been working together for a year on battery systems containing its “super-charge ion battery,” or SCiB, for use in electric cars, citing the battery’s long life and recharging speed.

For auto makers, securing access to high-quality and cost-effective rechargeable batteries is crucial for success in the burgeoning market for electric vehicles. Electronics companies have been retooling to meet this demand.

Battery suppliers like Toshiba are seeking major clients and forming joint ventures with auto makers.

Late last year, Panasonic Corp. (6752.TO) bought lithium ion battery maker Sanyo Electric Co. (6764.TO). Panasonic has a car battery joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.TO), while Sanyo supplies batteries to Honda Motor Co. (7267.TO) and Ford Motor Co. (F).

Other Japanese technology giants such as Hitachi Ltd. (6501.TO) and NEC Corp. (6701.TO) are trying to secure shares of the still-nascent battery market. Hitachi supplies General Motors Corp. (GM), while NEC has a battery joint venture with Nissan Motor Co. (7201.TO).

Toshiba has said it is working with Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) to develop electric car battery systems, although no final supply deal has been reached.

A Toshiba spokesman said the company intends to become a supplier to Mitsubishi, although an official decision would have to wait until the battery systems pass final tests.

Mitsubishi Motors said it is exchanging information on electric vehicle batteries with Toshiba, but couldn’t comment on whether Toshiba will supply it with batteries. A Mitsubishi spokesman said the company has also held talks with other potential suppliers.

Mitsubishi has already been developing electric-vehicle batteries with GS Yuasa Corp. (6674.TO). A GS Yuasa spokeswoman declined to comment on Toshiba’s announcement, saying only that “our favorable partnership with Mitsubishi Motors will continue.”


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