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Japan: GS Yuasa to Triple Lithium-Ion Battery Cell Production for Honda’s Plug-in Vehicles

GS Yuasa will triple is lithium-ion cell production to satisfy Honda’s anticipated demand for its upcoming Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

In December, I visited Japan to drive Honda’s upcoming plug-in cars: the Honda Fit EV and the Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid. I came away with two distinct impressions: first, that the combination of power and utility could make either of those cars (or both) stand-out choices on the plug-in market. And second, unfortunately, that Honda’s interest in producing and marketing electric cars is lukewarm at best.

Let me clarify. Honda President Takanobu, and other company executives, were certainly dismissive of pure electric cars—but had a more sanguine view of hybrids, presumably plug-in hybrids as well. “When I say hybrids, there are different types of hybrids,” he said. “Honda has to think about what would be best for each of the categories.”

So, while Honda will produce a mere 1,100 Honda Fit EVs over the next three years, and only make them available as a lease, there are new signs that the company will be forthcoming with plug-in hybrids. I haven’t seen any mention of production or sales targets—but regardless of official statements, most analysts dismiss posturing, and instead speak directly with suppliers to learn what automakers have in mind.

Boosting Production Times Three

Earlier this month, Nikkei reported that GS Yuasa Corporation, one of Honda’s key lithium-ion battery suppliers, plans to crank up its lithium-ion battery output for Honda to 15 million cells by fall of 2012. That’s three times its current production capacity for Honda. Nikkei adds, “Its output capacity will be increased to also supply batteries for a plug-in hybrid that Honda plans to launch in Japan and the US later this year.”
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