Mitsubishi Chemical decided to freeze the investment of 30 billion yen for increasing production capacity of materials for lithium-ion battery. The company plans to invest 30 billion yen by 2015, but electric vehicles are not selling as fast as originally expected. The company found that it has become hard to secure profitability under the current situation and decided to postpone the investment for at least 1-2 years.
According to a research company, Japanese companies have a combined share of 62.7% in the market of the four materials, namely, electrolyte, cathode, anode, and separator, in 2008, but it decreased to 46.6% in 2011. On the other hand, China increased the share to 23.9% and Korea increased the share to 20.6 respectively, decreasing the difference between Japanese companies quite rapidly.
Actually, sales of EVs are very slow. Nissan, the frontrunner of the EV business, planned to sell 1,500,000 EVs worldwide n alliance with Renault by 2016, but worldwide sales were only 43,000 units at the end of October 2012. Japan is the most advanced in promoting EVs with excellent subsidy system, but annual sales of Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors are supposed to be about 30,000 units each despite the wonderful subsidy. The slow sales can be attributed to the short travel distance per charge and fierce competition with hybrid vehicle and small cars with excellent mileage.
Actions of major material producers
Panax of Korea
Yumicore of Belgium
Decreasing the scale of expansion
Celgard of the U.S.
Toyota’s Hybrid Prius vs. Nissan’s EV Leaf