Hitachi to produce lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles

Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas Inc. has announced it has chosen its Mercer County, KY, plant as the site for its new North American lithium-ion battery packs production. The company will invest $12 million in the project and create 60 jobs. Production of these packs at the Harrodsburg plant is expected to begin in 2012, with the first product shipment going out in 2013.

This is Hitachi’s fourth announcement of new jobs and investment in this state since 2009, when the Governor traveled to Japan to meet with Hitachi officials. Since that visit, Hitachi has announced a total of 335 new jobs and $154.5 million in investment in its two Kentucky locations. The company produces automotive electronics in Harrodsburg, and automotive suspension, brake products and electric motors in its Berea factories. In total, Hitachi employs over 1,700 workers in the Commonwealth.

Hitachi recently completed construction of its new 153,000-sq.-ft. factory on its existing 85-acre Harrodsburg site. The expansion project, announced last year, is creating 145 new jobs there thanks to a $68 million investment. With this latest expansion, the plant also will produce the battery control electronics which will be installed as part of the battery pack assembly.

“Hitachi is one of the few automotive suppliers with the capability to develop and produce [its] own lithium-ion batteries, electric drive motors and the electronic controls needed to manage electric-powered automobiles,” said Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas President Mark Fujisawa. “The North American production of these hybrid electric vehicle batteries complements our North American production of hybrid vehicle motors, which we announced last month. We are excited to further expand our United States production operations with the manufacturing of these batteries produced in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”