Fuji Heavy Industries (makers of Subaru) has purchased the Electric Double Layer Capacitor (ultracapacitor) business from Kanebo Ltd for an estimated ¥100 million (approximately US$900,000), according to reports in the Japanese business press.
Fuji and Kanebo jointly began developing the capacitor technology in 2002 and Kanebo has decided to sell its stake in the project in an effort to turn around its mainline business.
The purchase allows Fuji Heavy to reduce some of the gap with its competitors in the development and production of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Honda, for example, uses an EDLC for energy storage in its FCX fuel cell car. (Earlier post.)
According to Nikkei Business, Fuji Heavy Industries plans to start commercial production of the ultracapacitor device before the end of 2010, and to sell the product to other companies, in addition to using it for its own vehicles.
In May, Fuji Heavy decided to postpone the planned 2006 release of a hybrid to 2008, due to cost issues in its current design. The company produces only some 590,000 vehicles per year—too low a volume to support developing hybrid technology on its own. (Earlier post.)
Fuji Heavy Industries apparently is hopeful that its battery business will become a new source of revenue.
Although other automakers are working hard to improve their hybrid electric vehicles and fuel-battery-powered vehicles, they are not so enthusiastic about research and development of the battery itself. As our company is not so large, we plan to make the battery business the main source of revenue. We aim to begin commercial production of the new battery before the end of 2010.
Under the reported terms of a partnership with Toyota, Toyota would supply its hybrid drive system to Fuji Heavy in return for Fuji Heavy supplying Toyota with advanced lithium-ion batteries for use in hybrids.