TOKYO -- Hitachi Vehicle Energy Ltd., chosen to supply General Motors Co. with lithium ion battery packs for hybrid vehicles, is shipping samples of a new battery that is 50 percent more powerful than the ones it will sell to GM.
The Japanese company, a closely held affiliate of a consumer and industrial electronics giant and a relative newcomer to the vehicle battery field, targets battery sales totaling ¥50 billion ($593.8 million) by 2015, up from what the company's president called "modest" sales today.
Hitachi Vehicle Energy will start manufacturing its third-generation lithium ion batteries for GM by the end of the year, President Masafumi Yuhara said. But fourth-generation batteries currently under development will deliver about 1.5 times the energy output of the third-generation ones. The new rectangular batteries have an energy density of 4,500 watts per kilogram, compared with 3,000 watts in the current cylindrical third-generation batteries.
The Japanese company has a factory north of Tokyo that can make 4.2 million lithium ion battery cells a year, or battery packs for about 3,500 cars per month.
But from April through June, the production rate was only about 500 battery packs a month, Yuhara said in a written response to questions submitted by Automotive News.