Hitachi To Supply Hybrid Car Batteries To GM

TOKYO (AP) -- Japanese electronics maker Hitachi Ltd. said Thursday it will supply lithium-ion batteries for hybrid vehicles to General Motors Corp. in 2010 and sharply raise production capacity to meet surging demand for gas-electric cars.

Hitachi currently makes 40,000 lithium-ion batteries per month and will lift the capacity to three million units.

"We plan to boost our production capacity for lithium-ion batteries as we expect demand for hybrid vehicles will continue to grow worldwide," said Hitachi spokesman Shinya Yamada. He declined to say when Hitachi would lift the capacity.

The Nikkei business daily said Thursday that Hitachi would invest around 30 billion yen ($311 million) to raise production capacity. But Yamada declined to confirm the report.

Hitachi will also start supplying lithium-ion batteries for hybrid cars to GM next year, the company spokesman said without elaborating further.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrids now use nickel-metal hydride batteries. The world's largest automaker said last month it will use for the first time lithium-ion batteries for its plug-in hybrid cars.

Using a lithium-ion battery will produce more energy, allowing hybrid cars to run more as an electric vehicle, but there have been some technological hurdles.