updated 12:20 pm EST, Sat January 21, 2012
Sony may outsource li-ion before 2014
Sony is looking to export its lithium-ion battery production from Japan, the country's Asahi paper claimed Saturday. While the base parts would still be made in Japan, actual production of the cellphone- and car-oriented batteries would go to China and Singapore. One of its existing facilities, in Tochigi Prefecture, would reportedly switch over to pure research and would push 500 workers to either apply for jobs elsewhere in Sony or quit.
Two offices in earthquake-hit Fukushima Prefecture were also being "reviewed." All of the transition would happen by the end of 2013, the newspaper said.
Sony hadn't officially confirmed any of the move.
The move would likely be prompted by the cost of production. With smartphones and electric cars both growing demand at over 10 percent every year, and the Japanese yen still at a high value, expanding production could prove costly versus overseas.
A change could affect the cost of many devices for end buyers. Although under pressure from Samsung and Taiwanese firms, Sony is still one of the largest li-ion battery producers and created ripples when it had to recall batteries worldwide, including those used by Apple, Dell, and others, over possible fire hazards.