Sanyo Electric plans to quadruple sales of battery cells to automakers to $1bn by 2015 as sales of hybrid vehicles increase.

Mitsuru Honma, head of the company's rechargeable battery unit, told Bloomberg News Sanyo may reverse its forecast for a sales decline at the unit this year to an increase as demand rises more than expected.

Ford and Honda have increased orders for Sanyo's nickel-hydride batteries for hybrid petrol-electric cars, and the company is preparing to boost production, he said.

Without giving names, Honma added the company would start supplying nickel-hydride cells to two European carmakers after 2010 and would boost monthly production capacity of the cells to 3.5m or more from 2m.

Sanyo plans to build a plant in Kasai, Hyogo prefecture, western Japan, to make 1m cells monthly from July 2010. Its current Tokushima factory makes lithium-ion batteries exclusively for Volkswagen.

Ford said its hybrid sales rose 91% in June over the same month a year ago to 3,649, a record for the month. Toyota reported that it had booked 200,000 domestic orders for the third generation Prius hybrid, introduced in May.