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Panasonic to expand its business in lithium-ion batteries

OSAKA: Panasonic Corp will expand its lithium-ion battery business, which last year added to a near-record net loss but is now contributing to a turnaround strategy targeting the auto sector, people familiar with the plans said on Wednesday.

The Japanese electronics conglomerate, smarting from $15 billion in combined losses over the last two years, will invest at least 20 billion yen ($200 million) in the year to March to boost production of both small and large lithium-ion batteries for automakers, the people said.

While that’s a relatively small part of the 83 billion yen Panasonic will spend in its automotive and industrial systems division – marked as a key source of growth as the company restructures loss-making operations such as TVs – it is noteworthy given that the battery business lost money in the last financial year.

The sources said Panasonic plans to build an additional production line for small batteries at a facility in the Osaka area in western Japan, and re-start another line at a separate Osaka plant. It is also constructing a new production line at its Kasai factory, also in western Japan, to build larger lithium-ion batteries. Operations are scheduled to begin there next spring, they said.



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