Hitachi ups battery business in U.S.

JIJI

Hitachi Ltd. is expanding its operations for lithium-ion batteries for energy-friendly vehicles in the U.S., where demand is expected to grow.

Earlier this year, the company started supplying batteries for General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Malibu Eco hybrid vehicles. The U.S. auto giant is expected to use Hitachi’s lithium-ion batteries for most of its hybrid vehicles in the future.

Hitachi is set to start its first overseas production of lithium-ion batteries in Kentucky by the end of this year. Although Hitachi is expected to ship to Nissan Motor Co. from Kentucky initially, it aims to win orders from other automakers, according Hitachi officials.

Competition is intensifying in the market for lithium-ion batteries for electronics, such as personal computers, due to the increasing presence of Chinese and South Korean makers. But Japanese makers still maintain their competitive edge in vehicle-use batteries, which require high safety levels.