OKAZAKI, JAPAN (July 15, 1:15 p.m. ET) — Mitsubishi Motors Corp., which makes electric-vehicle batteries through an in-house joint venture, wants to source more lithium ion power packs from outside to guarantee supply as it begins a product blitz of electric cars and plug-in hybrids.
The Japanese carmaker, which will launch its i EV in November in the United States, is considering lithium ion batteries from Toshiba Corp. and South Korean brands among others, said Yoshikazu Nakamura, Mitsubishi's global head of EV strategy.
Mitsubishi uses Toshiba-supplied batteries for its upcoming Minicab compact commercial van and a less-expensive, shorter-range version of the i to be offered in Japan.
And the standard i uses a lithium ion battery made by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and the Japanese battery manufacturer GS Yuasa Corp.
Mitsubishi plans to launch eight electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles around the world by 2016 as part of a push to refashion itself as a global EV leader. The automaker is scouting other battery options to support volume during the massive rollout, Nakamura said.
Toshiba batteries are well suited to EVs that can make due with a short range, while Lithium Energy Japan batteries are geared toward cars traveling longer distances.
But the joint venture lacks capacity to meet the rapid expansion, Nakamura said.
Mitsubishi is evaluating other batteries, including some made by South Korean companies. Nakamura declined to name them, but LG Chem and Samsung SDI are two big Korean players.
“The Koreans have a good price point but they have volume limitations, too,” he said.
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