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Panasonic to quintuple car battery sales in China

Mass production helps expand client base with electrics poised to blossom

Plans call for turning the automotive segment, including car batteries, into a $4 billion business in China by 2022.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Panasonic hopes to increase Chinese sales of lithium-ion car batteries and other automotive products more than fivefold by 2022 as the local market for electric vehicles shows signs of taking off.

The Japanese manufacturer began mass production and shipments in March at a lithium-ion car battery plant in Dalian. By next year, it expects the facility to begin supplying joint ventures of foreign automakers in the country. Raising the plant's capacity down the road will also be considered.

In China, Panasonic logged sales of about 5 billion yuan for its automotive and industrial systems business last year. Although the market accounts for less than 10% of the segment's overall sales, the company expects sales of electric cars and other vehicles to grow rapidly. Segment sales of 26 billion yuan ($4.13 billion) are targeted by 2022.

The company is working on such technologies as driver assistance and self-driving systems for the Chinese market at a research center built this month in Suzhou, west of Shanghai. Automakers in China have been accelerating development of autonomous-vehicle technologies with support from the government. Panasonic hopes that such developments will help it boost deliveries.

Panasonic rings up Chinese sales of roughly 800 billion yen ($7.45 billion) a year. "By 2020, we want to increase sales to 1.3 trillion yen," said Sadaaki Yokoo, regional head for China and Northeast Asia.

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