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NEC Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. said Tuesday they will establish a joint venture later this month to develop a high-performance rechargeable battery for hybrid vehicles.

NEC Lamilion Energy Ltd., to be capitalized at 490 million yen, will develop a manganese lithium ion-type rechargeable battery, they said.

Manganese lithium ion-type batteries have a higher density and are lower in volume than rechargeable nickel metal hydride batteries, which are currently used by commercial hybrid vehicles, the two firms said, adding their battery also weighs less and generates less heat.

NEC produces a high-security manganese lithium-ion cell using the same laminate packaging technology that is utilized in watches and mobile terminals, while Fuji Heavy has automobile battery-pack technology.

The firms said they will determine a production plan and begin developing the new battery within three years.

If successfully developed, the battery will be used in Fuji Heavy’s hybrid cars that are currently under development, and will be marketed to other car manufacturers, they said.

Isuzu sees bigger loss

Isuzu Motors Ltd. on Tuesday said its group net loss for the year to March 31 will probably come to around 43 billion yen because of lower than expected truck sales.

The new estimate is 72 percent more than the 25 billion yen Isuzu predicted in November.

The truck maker, an affiliate of General Motors Corp., posted a group net loss of 66.7 billion yen the previous year for its third consecutive annual group net loss.

The firm blamed the downward revision on weaker-than-expected domestic sales of trucks, appraisal losses on its holdings of shares at subsidiaries, as well as the greater expenses associated with its marketing efforts in the United States amid intensifying competition.

Sales are projected to have increased by 90 billion yen more than the previously forecast to 1.59 trillion yen, due chiefly to foreign-exchange gains stemming from the yen’s sharp depreciation against the dollar, it said.

Isuzu Motors said it now expects a 2 billion yen group pretax loss for the just-ended year, revised down from the earlier projected profit of 6 billion yen.

But Isuzu said it expects to post a group operating profit of 15 billion yen, the first group operating profit in three years and a sharp improvement from the previous year’s loss of 27.3 billion yen.

The company attributed the improved operating balance projection to successful efforts to reduce fixed costs.

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