Japan’s Toray to manufacture battery components in Europe

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Toray Industries, Inc. has announced plans to open a new factory in Hungary for the production of battery separator films (BSF) for use in lithium-ion batteries. The new factory is set to come online in July 2021 and will be located approximately 60 km north of Budapest bordering Slovakia, in the town of Nyergesújfalu, where Toray already operates a manufacturing base for other plastic materials.

The company says it will invest around €200 million in the new factory, and that it is applying for a subsidy from the Hungarian Government to support its development.

Separator film is a polymer layer which separates the anode and cathode within a battery cell, preventing short circuit without blocking the ions that move across the cell as it charges and discharges.

According to Toray, the factory will add approximately 20% to its BSF production capacity coming from existing factories in Japan and South Korea. The company describes BSF manufacturing as “the greatest priority” in its films business, stating that it expects demand for the materials to expand rapidly based on trends in energy storage, electric vehicles, and consumer electronics.

The European move could be a further testament to the continent building strong supply chain for lithium-ion battery manufacturing, which includes the manufacture of smaller components. In July, Chinese manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd (CATL) announced plans to invest up to €1.8 billion for a battery cell manufacturing facility in Germany.

CATL is expecting to supply the bulk of the battery cells manufactured at this facility to European car makers – having already signed a €4 billion long term agreement with BMW. Toray also identifies the European electric vehicle market as key to its strategy. “In Europe in particular, where environmental awareness is increasing, it is anticipated that eco-friendly EV vehicles will rapidly spread, and battery manufacturers are also actively entering European markets,” reads the company’s statement.

This article was amended on 17/07/2019 to add information received from Toray on the factory’s expected investment cost and plans to apply for a national subsidy.