Japan and Korea are boosting monies spent on research and development in an attempt to grab hold of the number one spot in the rapidly heating up lithium-ion battery segment.

Japanese news outlet the Nikkei reports that Japan will increase its li-ion-related spending because South Korea is threatening to steal a slice of the industry. Japanese manufacturers started developing lithium-ion batteries for vehicles in the 1990s and have since become world leaders. Some in South Korea would like to knock Japan from that perch.

To prevent this, Techno Systems Research, a Tokyo-based market firm, expects Japan's powerhouse corporations, including Toshiba and Hitachi to develop breakthrough li-ion batteries and even to come out with more competitively priced units to counter South Korean rivals. The Nikkei reports:
One Japanese manufacturer was recently shocked by the prices offered to automakers by a South Korean supplier, which were one-half to one-third that of similar Japanese products.
For a while, Japanese manufacturers might lose money selling batteries at such low prices, but even so, Japan seems unwilling to step aside in this heated race.


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