Lithium Energy Japan (LEJ) will build a new battery cell plant in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture. The facility will start production early in 2012, producing 4.4m cells a year, enough to power 50,000 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicles (EV). The total investment in plant and equipment will be JPY37.5bn. LEJ was officially established in December 2007, seven months after GS Yuasa Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation began collaboration to set up a joint venture company to manufacture large capacity and high performance lithium-ion bateries.
It commenced mass production on its first Kusatsu plant line last June and has since been operating at full capacity, producing 200,000 cells (enough for 2,300 EVs) a year. The second line will begin operations this June, enabling LEJ to ship an additional 400,000 cells (enough for 4,500 EVs), bringing annual production at Kusatsu up to 600,000 cells (enough for 6,800 EVs).
LEJ is also investing in a production line at its Kyoto works (GS Yuasa ‘s Kyoto facility) and, from December 2010, will produce 1m cells a year (enough for 11,000 EVs).
LEJ has developed technologies to mass produce large capacity lithium-ion cells and is now poised to launch full-scale operations capable of meeting the needs of more than 10,000 EVs per year. By the second half of fiscal 2012, when the Ritto Plant begins operations, LEJ will be capable of producing 6m cells (enough for 67,800 EVs) at its three production bases in Kusatsu, Kyoto, and Ritto. LEJ aims to expand its Japanese operations to accommodate 100,000 EVs per year in the future. For construction of the Ritto plant, LEJ will receive the maximum subsidy of JPY5bn under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s regional development subsidy programme for “Green Companies Towards Employment Creation” for fiscal 2009.