Sanyo Electric on Wednesday said it would invest JPY80bn to jointly develop lithium-ion batteries with the Volkswagen group and supply them for Audi-branded petrol-electric hybrid vehicles from the end of 2009.

By starting mass production of lithium-ion batteries at its plant in Tokushima Prefecture, Sanyo said it is aiming to win 40% of the global market for the high-power batteries by 2015, Kyodo News reported.

Sanyo already supplies Honda and Ford in North America with nickel metal hydride batteries and is also jointly developing next-generation nickel metal hydride batteries with Volkswagen, the report added.

The Osaka-based consumer electronics maker said it is planning to raise its lithium-ion battery production capacity to 10m packs per month and plans to build a new plant in addition to the Tokushima plant.

Sanyo also said it will aim to develop and launch lithium-ion batteries designed for plug-in hybrid vehicles in 2011, Kyodo News added.

The news agency said Sanyo vice president Mitsuru Homma suggested at a news conference that the electronics maker was willing to sell its lithium-ion batteries to other carmakers, saying: ''There is no doubt that Honda and Ford Motor are also strategic partners.''

Martin Winterkorn, chief executive officer of the Volkswagen group, said in a statement: ''Our focus in the future will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside [those] driven by more efficient combustion engines.''

Winterkorn stressed that developing ''powerful energy storage systems'' is indispensable for the group's future path. ''This cooperation is an important step for us,'' he said, according to Kyodo News.