Competition from China, South Korea means Japan could lose hold of li-ion market

Sanyo's Kasai Plant in Japan

With demand for lithium-ion batteries climbing worldwide, Japan could soon lose hold of its spot at the top of the industry. Facing stiff competition from China and South Korea, Japan is battling to stay ahead.

The Japanese company Kureha, for example, holds a 70 percent share of the international market for adhesives for cathode materials and is looking to grab a 20 percent share of the anode segment by 2015, but some analysts says that won't be enough for Kureha to continue to lead the way. On July 20th, Kureha president Takao Iwasaki stated:
Lithium-ion will dominate the battery market of this century. We hope to control that market with Japanese materials.
According to Techno Systems Research, South Korea's lithium-ion battery manufacturers grabbed 38 percent of the international market on a shipment basis in the first quarter of 2011, matching Japanese manufacturers for the first time ever. Back in the second quarter of 2010, South Korea's Samsung SDI topped Japan's Sanyo Electric and has held onto its leading spot ever since.

Even more of a concern is China, where "about 1,000 materials makers have emerged," according to Asahi. This eruption, says Asahi, has led to a lithium-ion battery price war in the mobile phone segment, which suggests that a battle in the plug-in vehicle industry may already be brewing.

[Source: Asahi]

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