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Japan battery material producers lose spark as China races ahead

Former market leaders turn to recycling and next-gen tech to regain lost ground

Robots assemble a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. Batteries are said to account for a third of the cost of an EV. (Photo courtesy of Nissan)

TOKYO -- Japanese companies that once dominated the market for automotive battery materials have been knocked from their perch by cheaper Chinese rivals, but they hope new technologies and recycling will let them reset the playing field.

Batteries account for about one-third of the price of an electric vehicle, and producing them cheaply is a major factor in whether an EV model can compete on the market.

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