Toshiba Working With Automakers on Lithium-ion Technology
Toshiba Corp. announced on Monday that it is currently working with multiple automakers on developing new lithium-ion technology for current and future versions of both electric and hybrid electric cars. Honda recently announced plans to start selling electric motorcycles powered by Toshiba (OTC: TOSBF) battery cells and Tesla Motors decided to go with Toshiba over US based battery maker A123 Systems (NASDAQ: AONE) for their upcoming and hotly anticipated Model S sedan.
Sanyo (OTC:SANYY) is the current industry leader when it comes to total production volume of lithium-ion cells, recently added the automaker Suzuki to its list of clients in a sign that the race to secure contracts with automakers is already well underway. Most industry analysts are betting on a 3 way battle between Panasonic/Toshiba, A123 Systems and Sanyo Corp. over the coming decade with no clear front runner yet established.
The current limitations of lithium-ion energy density are widely believed to be the single largest limiting factor when it comes to the adoption of electric cars and motorcycles. Most electric cars have a 100 mile or less range and the overwhelming majority of consumers seem to want a minimum of 300 miles. In addition to limited range, batteries tend to have long recharge times, often over 8 hours for a 100% charge. Innovation in these areas allowing fast recharges and significant increases in energy density are likely to determine the winner in the race to be the dominant producer of lithium-ion battery cells in the long term.