The Nikkei reports that Japanese makers of Li-ion batteries are boosting R&D to bolster their position as lower-cost South Korean rivals threaten to steal a slice of their market.
Japanese manufacturers started developing Li-ion batteries for vehicles in the 1990s and have become world leaders. They are hoping to cash in on the explosive growth expected in the market for such batteries. Techno Systems Research Co., a Tokyo-based market research firm, expects that market to be 54 times bigger in 2020 than it was in 2010. By that year, global sales of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles are expected to reach 38 billion dollars (3 trillion yen).
...Toshiba, Hitachi and other Japanese makers of Li-ion batteries are striving to develop new, more competitive products because they are feeling the heat from hard-charging South Korean manufacturers. South Korean battery makers are trying to grab bigger chunks of the market by undercutting their Japanese rivals.
...One Japanese manufacturer was recently shocked by the prices offered to automakers by a South Korean supplier, which were one-half to one-third that of similar Japanese products. “A Japanese battery maker would lose money selling at such prices,” said an industry executive.