OSAKA - Panasonic Corp. said Friday it will start manufacturing lithium-ion batteries for electric cars in fiscal 2019 at its plant in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, expanding domestic production to meet growing demand for green vehicles across the globe.
The batteries for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids will be produced for shipment to domestic automakers, Panasonic said. The Osaka-based electronics maker is likely to spend tens of billions of yen on setting up production lines there.
The Himeji plant currently manufactures small and medium-size liquid crystal display panels for vehicles and medical equipment. To make the batteries, it will use the space left unused at the plant after withdrawing from LCD TV panel production in 2016 amid fierce production from foreign rivals.
Panasonic has been expanding its lithium-ion battery production both at home and abroad.
The Japanese electronics maker supplies lithium-ion batteries to U.S. electric-car maker and energy company Tesla Inc., and the two companies also jointly run a plant in Nevada named Gigafactory that mass-produces the batteries.
Within Japan, Panasonic already has five other lithium-ion battery production plants.
Automakers are shifting toward low-emission vehicles amid tighter emissions regulations across the globe.
The British and French governments have said they will ban sales of gasoline-driven cars and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040. China, the world’s biggest car market, is also tightening rules to push the move toward electric cars.