Toshiba boosts electric cars' future

Toshiba has announced it is to build a new factory to boost production of rechargeable batteries that can be used in hybrid cars and electric vehicles.

The plant, which will begin production in late 2010, will increase Toshiba's manufacturing capacity to several million cells per month. It currently make just 150,000.

Although the batteries will be used in electronics, the main target will be large appliances such as vehicles. They are currently being used in an electric bike made by Cannondale Sports Group.

According to spokeswoman for Toshiba, Hiroko Mochida, the plant, which will be built in northwest Japan, is part of an investment plan worth "several tens of billions of yen".

It has been reported by the Nikkei business newspaper that Toshiba would be investing between 20 billion yen and 30 billion yen (£150 million -£224 million) in the plant.

Lithium ion batteries are lightweight and well-suited for electronics, but they have been subject to a number of problems and many have been recalled for safety reasons, including overheating and even exploding.

According to Toshiba its new "Super charge ion Battery" is safer, can be quickly recharged, and will offer ten years of use.

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