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Companies

Murata to invest nearly $1bn in electric-car parts

Japanese manufacturer looks to diversify as smartphone demand peaks

The electronics maker plans to transform itself as a supplier of parts for electric vehicles.   © Reuters

OSAKA -- Murata Manufacturing plans to invest as much as 100 billion yen ($933 million) through fiscal 2019 to boost capacity for electronic components used in electric vehicles, seeking a fresh growth driver as the smartphone market plateaus.

The Japanese company will spend between 50 billion and 100 billion yen to expand ceramic capacitor production facilities in the western Japanese prefecture of Shimane and outside the Philippine capital of Manila. It aims to increase capacity by 20% with a focus on parts for electric vehicles. This would represent one of Murata's largest-ever investments in capacitors.

Ceramic capacitors are used in autos to adjust electrical signals from key parts such as motors and inverters and ensure they function properly. Automotive capacitors require greater durability than those found in smartphones. The nascent autonomous-driving field is expected to bolster demand.

Murata is among the Japanese parts makers undergoing a structural shift to remain competitive on the global stage amid the maturation of the smartphone market, which had supported demand in recent years. Worldwide smartphone shipments dipped 0.5% to 1.46 billion handsets last year, according to research firm IDC -- the first annual decline since Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007.

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