The Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., better known to us in the west under the Panasonic brand, has "informally decided" to spend about $951 million (100 billion yen) constructing what would be one of the world's biggest li-ion battery factories. This would triple the company's current capacity with its three existing plants, place it ahead of Sony and very close to the worlds number one, Sanyo. The three companies together currently control about 70 percent of the consumer electronics li-ion market.

The additional 50 million units a month capacity would help the company meet surging demand and be used in laptops, cell phones, and, of course, automobiles. They have been studying what it would take to make li-ion for automotive applications via their joint venture with Toyota that goes by the catchy moniker of Panasonic EV Energy. They expect the new plant to be able to ship product as soon as two years from now.

[Source: Yomiuri Online / Reuters]