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With the consumer good's industry getting increasingly competitive, Japan's well known consumer brands like Sony are putting a bigger emphasis on supplying parts to automakers for the chance of higher profit margins.

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Honda is envisioning what it calls a CO2-free society and, not surprisingly, it's a rather sunny one, in one Japanese city, at least. The Japanese automaker is kicking off a test program with the micro-electric-vehicle that will use power generated via photovoltaic energy collected and stored at EV charging stations. Yes, the big old sun will power those little-bitty MC-β cars.

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Honda plans to show how its super-small electric vehicle prototype fits into the bigger picture. The Japanese automaker is collaborating with electronics giant Toshiba and home-builder Sekisui House in their Smart Mobility City joint exhibit at the 43rd Tokyo Motor Show starting later this month. Themed "Being Smarter! Being Freer!", the companies will show off their truly utopian vision of neighborhoods with a "stable supply of renewable energy through the utilization of batteries and managemen

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While Honda's EV-neo has been available in Japan since last year, the rest of the world had to make do without them. That will change next month in Europe, as Honda will be unveiling the little electric in Barcelona. That's a good choice, considering 30 percent of all vehicles there are motorcycles. There will be a demonstration program in conjunction with the Barcelona City Council in which Honda will provide 18 EV-neos for a year.

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The Minicab MiEV, one of eight plug-in vehicles that Mitsubishi intends to launch by the end of 2015, is now available to order in Japan. The Minicab MiEV is an electric commercial van that's offered with a choice of either a 10.5 kWh or a 16.0 kWh Toshiba-supplied battery pack. Mitsubishi says that the 10.5 kWh version of the Minicab MiEV can be purchased for approximately 1,700,000 yen ($20,621 U.S. at the current exchange rate), while the 16.0 kWh version rings up at 2,050,000 yen ($24,867 U.

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The Minicab MiEV, one of the eight new plug-in vehicles Mitsubishi will be dishing out over the next few years, is to be powered by Toshiba's SCiB battery. The two companies had announced they would be working together last summer, in part to aid quicker development of the fast-charging, long lasting battery tech.

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Dysprosium is a chemical element with the symbol Dy and atomic number 66. It's also a rare-earth metal, found mainly in the clay ores of southern China. Dy has one of the highest magnetic strengths of any element, making it ideal for electric motors used in battery-powered vehicles, but access to this rare-earth metal can be often limited by export restrictions enforced by the Chinese government.

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Toshiba isn't a stranger to the rechargeable battery business. In fact, it's one of the largest producers of rechargeable batteries for consumer electronics. Automotive batteries, though, that's a different story. Back in May, Toshiba announced that it was ready to enter the burgeoning li-ion market and had reportedly lined up some collaborative deals with a handful of undisclosed automakers. Recently, Toshiba revealed that Mitsubishi and Volkswagen were among the group of previously unknown aut

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Speaking outside its Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, CA, Volkswagen chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn reconfirmed the automaker's commitment to bring electric vehicles to market in 2013, beginning with the eGolf compact and eUp! city car.

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Speaking outside its Electronics Research Lab in Palo Alto, California, Volkswagen chairman Dr. Martin Winterkorn reconfirmed the automaker's commitment to bring electric vehicles to market in 2013, beginning with the eGolf compact and eUp! city car.

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Toshiba has been quite secretive regarding the development of its li-ion SCiB battery technology for electric vehicles (EVs). As of late last year, the battery maker remained confident that its SCiB technology would eventually find its way into EVs produced by several automakers. And then a couple months back, Toshiba announced that it was continuing to develop the SCiB technology with the help of several undisclosed automakers. Now, Toshiba has formally announced a partnership with Mitsubishi t

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Ford Escape PHEV prototype – Click above for high-res image gallery

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Here we have an in-car accessory that won't ask you to take more of your attention from the road. The Toshiba MK2060GSC hard-disk-drive will be available later this year in 100GB and 200GB flavors for OEM entertainment systems. About the only spec that could be considered so-so is the 4,200-rpm rotational speed, but otherwise it will perform beyond your car's limits: it can be used in temperatures from -22 Fahrenheit to 185, from 999 feet below sea level to 18,645 (but you can take it up to 39,6

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Last month, when Toshiba announced it would build a second plant to produce its lithium titanate Super Charge Batteries (SCiB), no automakers had publicly declared they would use those particular packs. This is still the case. Now, though, if you were to just throw darts at a list of potential automakers who might be putting SCiBs into plug-in vehicles, there's a good chance you'll hit one who's actually going to, if Shoshi Kawatsu, the general manager of the SCiB division, is right. Kowatsu to

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Eliica concept electric car - Click above for high-res image gallery

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It's looking increasingly likely that plug-in vehicles will not entirely bring America energy independence, at least not in terms of energy storage. The fact that American business over the last couple of years seems to have largely given up on manufacturing in favor of being a service economy means that we will continue to depend on the likes of Japan and China for our battery needs. The latest company to chase the potential bonanza represented by plug-in vehicles is Toshiba. The consumer elect

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