Toshiba on Monday said it was developing lithium-ion batteries with multiple automakers.

Output of rechargeable batteries is expected to jump five-fold in the next five years as makers of electrical items team up with automakers.

Mostly recently Sanyo Electric, the world’s largest maker of such batteries, added Suzuki Motor to a list of automakers to which it supplies batteries, while Panasonic and Toyota are producing lithium-ion batteries through a joint venture.

Ryuichi Nakata, 59, head of Toshiba’s smart grid, solar power and lithium-ion battery division, said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit that Toshiba was seeking business opportunities widely.

“We are in a development phase with multiple automakers,” said Nakata. “Our strategy is to compete in an open market rather than doing business one-on-one.”

He said he is personally considering changing to an electric car from a conventional one.

Toshiba, which also competes with companies such as GS Yuasa in auto-use batteries, is building a new plant in northern Japan.

It plans to start producing its rechargeable SCiB (Super Charge ion Battery) in February 2011 with an initial capacity of 500,000 per month and aims to double output in 2012.

Toshiba has won orders from Honda Motor to supply batteries for electric motorcycles, and has said it will supply batteries for electric cars to an unidentified automaker.

It aims for SCiB sales of JPY200bn (US$2.2 billion) in 2015/16.