Sharp Corp. plans to double the output capacity of liquid crystal display TVs at its Spanish factory in April, seeking to meet surging demand in Europe.

Prior to the move, which will see output rise to 40,000 units a month, the Osaka-based electronics maker will stop making cathode-ray tube TVs at the Spanish factory at the end of the year, Sharp spokesman Hiroshi Taniguchi said Monday.

“After ending the CRT TV production at our factory in Spain, we will convert the production lines there so we can expand the LCD TV production at the start of fiscal 2004,” Taniguchi said.

The maneuver will mark the first complete switch to LCD from CRT at an overseas Sharp TV factory, he said.

The company plans to introduce the switch gradually at its other TV production bases overseas, including a factory in Mexico that makes TVs for the North American market, Taniguchi said. Sharp has already halted CRT TV production in Japan.

The plant in Barcelona imports liquid crystal panels and other parts from Japan to assemble 13-inch to 30-inch LCD TVs for the European market.

Sharp will expand clean rooms and shift personnel at the Spanish factory to raise its manufacturing capacity for LCD TVs and add 37-inch LCD TVs to its product lineup early next year, he said.

Sharp’s European sales of LCD TVs are growing rapidly. Sharp expects demand in the European market to grow to 540,000 units in fiscal 2003.

The Spanish plant began producing CRT TVs in 1986. Output has fallen to a few hundred thousand units a year amid falling demand.

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