Over the past year, Mitsubishi has repeatedly increased its production volume goals of the i-MiEV electric car and now it has decided it needs more capacity to build batteries. Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) is the joint venture between Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa to build lithium ion batteries. LEJ will build a new production facility in Ritto City, Japan with capacity to supply enough lithium cells for 50,000 cars a year.

The Ritto plant will be able to produce up to 4.4 million cells annually. The current Kusatsu factory has two lines producing 600,000 cells a year and is running at capacity. Another line currently being installed at GS Yuasa's Kyoto factory will come on stream in December of this year with capacity for 1 million cells. The Ritto plant is scheduled to start production in early 2012. With all this output, LEJ will still only being producing enough cells for about 100,000 i-MiEVs a year, which isn't much in the overall car market.

[Source: Mitsubishi]

PRESS RELEASE

Lithium Energy Japan Commits to Construction of New Plant - New Ritto Plant (Japan) to Begin Full Mass Production of Lithium-ion Batteries for 50,000 Electric Vehicles Per Year in 2012 -

Tokyo/Kyoto, April 14, 2010 - Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) has decided to build a new Plant in Ritto City, Shiga Pref., Japan. The new Ritto plant will start production in early 2012. The new plant will produce 4.4 million cells a year, enough to power 50,000 of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation's new-generation i-MiEV electric vehicles (EV). The total investment in plant and equipment will amount to 37.5 billion yen.

LEJ commenced mass production at its Kusatsu Plant 1st Line last June, and has since been operating at full capacity, producing 200,000 cells (enough for 2,300 EVs) a year. The 2nd Line will begin operations this June, enabling LEJ to ship an additional 400,000 cells (enough for 4,500 EVs), bringing LEJ's annual production from Kusatsu up to 600,000 cells (enough for 6,800 EVs). Furthermore, LEJ has started investing in a production line at its Kyoto works (GS Yuasa's Kyoto Office), and from December 2010, will produce 1 million cells a year (enough for 11,000 EVs). LEJ has succeeded in developing technologies to produce the large capacity lithium-ion cells in the specially designed mass production line, and is now prepared to launch full-scale operations capable of meeting the needs of more than 10,000 EVs per year.

By the second half of fiscal year 2012, when the Ritto Plant begins operations, LEJ will be capable of producing 6 million cells (enough for 67,800 EVs) through these three production bases of Kusatsu, Kyoto, and Ritto. LEJ aims to expand its Japanese operations to accommodate 100,000 EVs per year in the future.

For its construction of the Ritto plant, LEJ will receive the maximum subsidy of 5 billion yen under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's "Regional Development Subsidy Program for "Green" Companies Towards Employment Creation" for the fiscal year 2009.

【Description of LEJ's capital investments】

1st Line of Kusatsu Plant
2nd Line of Kusatsu Plant
Kyoto Plant
Ritto Plant
Location
Kusatsu City, Shiga
Minami-ku, Kyoto
Ritto City, Shiga
Lot space
20,000 m²
200,000 m²
56,000 m²
Building space
7,900 m²
1,900 m²
13,000 m²
45,000 m²
Annual production capacity
0.2 million cells
0.4 million cells
1.0 million cells
4.4 million cells
Equivalent amount of i-MiEV battery units
2,300
4,500
11,000
50,000
Start of shipping
June 2009
June 2010
December 2010
Early 2012
Amount of capital investment
3.3 billion yen
4.2 billion yen
6.7 billion yen
37.5 billion yen
1
【Overview of Lithium Energy Japan】
Corporate Name
Lithium Energy Japan
Establishment
December 12th, 2007
Location of Headquarters
1, Inobanba-cho, Nishinosho, Kisshoin, Minami-ku, Kyoto, Japan
Capital
4 billion yen (As of March 31, 2010)
Investors
GS Yuasa International Ltd. 51% Mitsubishi Corporation 34% Mitsubishi Motors Corporation 15%
Business
Development, Manufacturing & Sales of Large Lithium-ion batteries


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