With this kind of money flow into the lithium batteries sector it is no wonder why Japanese companies are so active in the lithium market:
"Government sponsored enterprise in U.S. Strategic Metals Development Corp. like a Japanese JOGMEC can do the trick and finance juniors like International Lithium, Western Lithium and Rodinia Minerals on J/V basis: otherwise it will be 80s with Japanese Fever all over again. This time Japanese conglomerates will control not only movie studious, but something little bit more essential in the time of peak oil - lithium supply for the Electric Mobility Revolution. Recent deal in Nevada by JOGMEC with Lomico Metals is the first step in that direction, properties are still under DD review, but appetite to be engage in lithium exploration and development in Nevada by Japanese is there. Who will be gone next? When GM, Ford, GE, Dow, Rio Tinto, Boeing and DOE will wake up?"
Published May 3, 2010
Japan’s Nikkei today reported that Sanyo Electric Co. will increase spending on rechargeable batteries and solar cells to more than $2.13 billion. The company plans mass production of lithium ion batteries for plug-in hybrids and electric cars by fiscal 2012—and aims to capture 40 percent of the global market for vehicle rechargeable batteries by 2020.
Development of affordable, lightweight rechargeable car batteries—with greater energy storage capacity—is seen as the key to a mass-market for hybrid and electric cars.
In December 2009, Panasonic acquired a majority control of Sanyo for $4.6 billion. The merger created Japan’s second-largest electronics conglomerate—and gave the pair a market share in nickel metal hydride batteries, used in today’s hybrids, of about 80 percent. Panasonic has historically provided batteries for Toyota hybrids, while Sanyo supplied Ford and Honda.
According to a report in Nikkei in Aug. 2009, Toyota will use Sanyo batteries in a hybrid minivan slated to debut in Japan around 2011. Toyota also plans to use lithium ion batteries in a plug-in version of the Prius.
Asian battery companies have also taken a lead in lithium ion battery technology. South Korea’s LG Chem will supply batteries for the Chevy Volt. Japan’s NEC—a strategic partner with Nissan—will produce batteries for the all-electric Leaf sedan.
Back in the USA
The United States has, by no means, given up the fight. Last week, the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E (Advanced Projects Research Agency – Energy) program announced a new round of battery research funding of about $35 million. Among the 10 companies receiving support, Tucson’s Sion Power Co. was given a $5 million grant to develop a lithium sulfur battery that can go 300 miles between charges. Another $5 went to PolyPlus Battery of Berkeley, Calif., to develop a battery that has the energy density roughly equivalent to gasoline.
The federal government has also invested in battery manufacturing capacity. In 2009, the US Department of Energy awarded $1.5 billion in grants to US battery makers in attempt to build a domestic manufacturing base for advanced auto batteries—to spur growth in the burgeoning hybrid and electric car industry, and to create clean tech jobs especially in Michigan."