Panasonic develops more powerful battery for autos, computers

TOKYO — Panasonic Corp. has developed more powerful batteries for use in everything from laptops to electric vehicles, the Japanese electronics maker said Friday.

TOKYO — Panasonic Corp. has developed more powerful batteries for use in everything from laptops to electric vehicles, the Japanese electronics maker said Friday.

The new lithium-ion batteries are 20 per cent to 30 per cent more powerful than current batteries, according to Osaka-based Panasonic.

They can raise the cruising range of electric vehicles on a single charge from 200 kilometres to about 270 kilometres, it said.

Major automakers around the world are developing electric and plug-in vehicles, intensifying the race to produce better lithium-ion batteries. Demand is expected to grow for their use in such vehicles, not just laptops and other gadgets.

Panasonic has a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. that supplies batteries for hybrid cars, including the Prius, and plug-in models.

But Panasonic said it was in talks with about 10 automakers to supply the new battery, underlining the breakdown of such tie-ups involving batteries for green autos.

Panasonic has also just taken majority control of Japanese rival Sanyo Electric Co., which also boasts lithium-ion battery technology. Sanyo supplies batteries to Volkswagen AG of Germany.

With fears growing about global warming, Panasonic is banking on the efforts of governments, including the U.S. and Europe, to curb emissions.

The new government of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Panasonic said it had developed a better safety technology with its batteries that prevents overheating, a relatively common problem with lithium-ion batteries.

One type of the new batteries will go into mass production in the fiscal year ending March 2012, while another kind will go into mass production in the fiscal year ending March 2013.

Also Friday, Panasonic said it had developed a more powerful and durable fuel cell system, which is a more futuristic source of energy.

Panasonic said it hopes to combine the fuel cell with lithium-ion batteries for creating and storing energy outdoors, and will start testing the technology in the fiscal year ending March 2012.

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