A company not well known for its lithium-ion battery production may soon become one of the world's largest battery producers.  Hitachi is not a front runner in production of lithium-ion automotive batteries, but their intentions over the course of the next several years could certainly change where they stand amongst the elite battery producers.

According to reports from the Nikkei newspaper in Japan, Hitachi plans to spend between $200 and $300 million to increase its battery production over the next several years.  Additional manufacturing facilities will boost Hitachi's battery output by more than 600 % by next fall, but they are not about to stop there.  Future plans could boost their overall production to more than 70 times they amount of batteries that they produce today.

Hitachi is currently working to fill orders of 100,000 batteries for GM hybrid vehicles next year, but additional orders are expected to exceed 700,000 units and the company will build additional manufacturing facilities to meet the increased demand.

Though the name is not well known in the automotive hybrid field, Hitachi was the first company to start volume production of lithium-ion batteries for commercial vehicles back in 2000.  They have only supplied a few thousand batteries over the last few years in automotive applications, but are looking to expand quickly.

The hybrid use battery market is estimated to be valued at $6 billion by 2015 and Hitachi expects their sales to be around $1 billion, giving them one sixth of the market.  From a few thousand a year, to 700,000 plus batteries a year, Hitachi is moving forward in leaps and bounds and is investing a significant amount of money in their efforts of becoming a leader in the lithium-ion battery field.

Source:  Edmunds ,  Nikkei (Login required)