In view of fast growing demand for automotive lithium (Li)-ion batteries arising from increasing global sales of electric vehicles, Japan-based makers of Li-ion battery materials are expanding their production capacities, according to Digitimes Research.
Asahi Kasei, Ube Industries, Toray and Sumitomo Chemical are major suppliers for insulation materials, and Ube Industries, Mitsubishi Chemical and Mitsui Chemical focus on electrolyte products. Meanwhile, Nichia, Nippon Denko and Sumitomo Metal Mining deal with cathode materials and Hitachi Chemical sells mostly anode materials.
Asahi Kasei has revised upward its annual production target for insulation materials to 1.5 billion square meters by 2020, up from 1.1 billion square meters set previously in 2016.
Ube Industries and Mitsubishi Chemical have set up two electrolyte joint ventures with total annual production capacity of 15,000 tons in China. Mitsubishi Chemical, in particular, will expand its production capacity for ethylene carbonate, a material of electrolyte, in Japan, while also considering setting up a second factory overseas.
Sumitomo Metal Mining will invest JPY18 billion (US$160 million) to expand its monthly production capacity for cathode materials from 1,850 tons currently to 3,550 tons in January 2018.
Hitachi Chemical plans to set up a anode factory in the US mainly for Gigafactory, a super-large Li-ion battery factory set up jointly by Tesla and Panasonic in Tennessee.
According to Japan-based Techno System Research, the global market value for Li-ion battery materials is expected to reach JPY1.81 trillion in 2020, increasing 2.4 times from the level in 2015.