As Mitsubishi Motors Corp. is set to start a massive product campaign of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, it wants to make sure that the supply is sufficient by sourcing more lithium ion power packs from outside. The carmaker currently produces electric-vehicle batteries via an in-house joint venture.
Yoshikazu Nakamura, Mitsubishi's global head of EV strategy, said that the company is considering lithium ion batteries from several firms including Toshiba Corp. and South Korean brands.
The i EV is set to be launched this November in the U.S. Mitsubishi uses batteries from Toshiba for its new Minicab compact commercial van and a more affordable, shorter-range variant of the i that will be available in Japan.
The standard i is equipped with a lithium ion battery produced by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa Corp.
Mitsubishi is planning for the global launch of eight electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2016 as part of a drive to be considered as a global EV leader. Nakamura said that Mitsubishi is looking for other battery options for the expected surge of volume.
Toshiba batteries are compatible with EVs that have a short range, while Lithium Energy Japan batteries are suitable for vehicles that go on longer distances. The problem is that the joint venture doesn’t have the capacity for the swift expansion.
Mitsubishi is assessing other batteries such as those produced by Korean firms. Nakamura didn’t identify these companies but it’s believed that the list includes LG Chem and Samsung SDI.