Panasonic eyes shifting lithium ion batteries output to China

Panasonic Corp. is considering transferring production of consumer-use lithium-ion batteries at its Kaizuka plant in Osaka Prefecture to China as early as next March, it was learned Wednesday.

The output is expected to be fully transferred to a new plant in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, in eastern China, informed sources said.

Panasonic sees the need to shift production overseas to take advantage of lower manufacturing costs amid pressure by the strong yen and intensifying competition with South Korean makers, the sources said.

About 350 workers at the Kaizuka plant are likely to be relocated to other workplaces in Japan. The major electronics maker is currently in talks with its labor union, the sources said.

The Kaizuka plant produces lithium-ion batteries used mainly in notebook personal computers. It is one of the production bases affiliated with Sanyo Electric Co., which became a wholly owned unit of Panasonic last year. The move is part of Panasonic’s initiative to shift its battery production operations to China.