Rejiggered production to focus on large lithium-ion batteries
[image] Mitsubishi Chemical may boost domestic electrolyte production as
well. (Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Chemical)
TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Chemical plans to restart a U.K. plant, double capacity
in the U.S. and shutter a Chinese factory as part of a restructuring of its
electrolyte business intended to prepare for the spread of electric
Electrolytes are a key material used in lithium-ion batteries. With a 40%
market share, the Tokyo-based company is the leader in electrolytes used in
vehicle batteries. To enhance its technological capabilities, it plans to
stop taking new orders for mobile device batteries -- where inexpensive
products are demanded -- and specialize in large batteries such as storage
batteries and those for automobiles.
The Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings unit will restart an electrolyte plant in
the English town of Stockton-on-Tees in spring 2018. That location will
initially ship prototypes with plans to transition to mass production as
early as next fall. The plant began producing batteries in 2012 but
suspended operations in March 2016 because electric vehicles had not caught
on as quickly as anticipated.
In the U.S., the chemical company is planning to invest in expansion. In
addition to adding capacity at an existing facility in Tennessee, it is
considering construction of a new plant in Nevada depending on a leading
electric-vehicle venture's production plans. Productivity may also be
improved at the Yokkaichi plant in Japan to enhance capacity there by 2019.