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Electric cars in China

Yaskawa joins with Chery to tap China's electric-car market

Japanese robot maker will provide parts and production equipment

Yaskawa Electric offers robots designed for a wide range of tasks, including welding.

TOKYO -- Japan's Yaskawa Electric will team up with China's Chery Automobile to make and sell equipment for electric vehicle production in China, looking to sell its robots and motors to a growing market.

The partnership announced Wednesday entails Yaskawa taking a small stake in Chery unit Anhui Ruixiang Industry, though details about the investment were not disclosed. The Japanese industrial robot maker will use its sales channels and expertise in introducing new equipment.

Ruixiang Industry's strengths include automation of processes such as welding. Electric vehicles are increasingly made with materials like high-tensile steel, aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymers to reduce weight, requiring different welding methods than for normal steel.

In 2016, Yaskawa established a joint venture with Chery to make motors and drive systems for electric vehicles. The investment in Ruixiang Industry will give the company another channel to reach Chinese automakers, this time through production equipment.

The auto industry is not Yaskawa's only target in China. It has joined hands with Chinese appliance maker Midea Group on robots used in manufacturing and in nursing care. It also has entered a smartphone-related joint venture with contract electronics maker Shenzhen Everwin Precision Technology. The Japanese company plans to sell parts such as controllers to Chinese industrial robot makers.

"We'll work with big local players while keeping an eye on technological trends," President Hiroshi Ogasawara said.

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