Sony opens US$106M battery plant in S'pore

Japanese electronics giant opens its first Southeast Asian plant, located in Singapore, to manufacture lithium ion polymer batteries.

SINGAPORE--Sony has opened a plant in the island-state to manufacture lithium ion polymer batteries, marking the company's first such facility in the Southeast Asian region.

The Japanese electronics giant on Thursday unveiled the S$150 million (US$106 million) plant, which is targeted to reach full capacity in 2010. This is Singapore's only such facility manufacturing lithium ion polymer batteries, and Sony intends to use the plant mainly for cellular phones, according to a statement.

When it reaches full production capacity, the plant is expected to meet over 10 percent of Sony's total lithium ion battery needs of approximately 8 million cells monthly, the company said.

Globally, it produces 41 million cells per month and is targeting to increase production to 74 million in 2010.

Credited for the first commercial release of such batteries in 1992, Sony said lithium ion batteries are growing at a rate of 12 percent per annum and projected to reach 2.9 billion cells globally in 2008. The manufacturer estimates that 40 percent of this overall quantity is used in cellular phones.

Ryoji Chubachi, Sony's president and electronics CEO, said the lithium ion battery business is one of Sony's major pillars of growth.

These batteries are also used in notebook computers, for which Sony in 2006 initiated a massive recall exercise, following reports of overheating due to the batteries.

The 109,600 square meter-facility currently employs 270 employees, and the company expects to increase the headcount to 500 when the plant is fully operational. Sony added that some 100 local engineers have undergone training at the company's Japanese facilities.

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