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Hitachi Chemical to build US plant for battery material

TOKYO -- Hitachi Chemical will by fiscal 2018 set up an American plant for a key material used in batteries for electric vehicles, spending about 10 billion yen ($83 million).

     The Japanese company is still working out the precise location. Amid tightening emissions regulations in the state of California, it expects demand to grow for anode materials for automotive lithium-ion batteries.

     Hitachi Chemical enjoys the top global market share of about 30% by value and now makes the materials in Japan and China. The American plant will double or triple its output capacity.

     The company has supplied anode materials for batteries used in the Nissan Leaf electric car. It hopes to supply Panasonic, which makes lithium-ion batteries for Tesla Motors of the U.S. and is planning a battery factory in the state of Nevada.

     Meanwhile, Showa Denko has plans to invest 1 billion yen to 2 billion yen to double capacity around 2016. Nagano Prefecture facilities with an annual capacity of 3,000 tons are running at full clip, thanks to brisk demand in China and elsewhere in Asia. Chinese production may be launched as well.

     The company also will step up production of carbon fiber used to make electrode materials more durable. In the latter half of the year, it will resume operations at a Kanagawa prefecture plant for the first time in three years to more than double output to an annual 200 tons.

     The market for materials used in lithium-ion batteries is expected to reach 930 billion yen in 2018, up 60% from 2013, according to market research company Fuji Keizai.

(Nikkei)

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