Tokyo, September 25, 2018 — Ube Industries, Ltd., Maxell Holdings, Ltd., and their joint venture, Ube Maxell Co., Ltd., today announced that the joint venture has decided to expand the production capacity for lithium-ion battery separator, in order to meet growing demand for automotive use lithium-ion batteries (LiBs).
The expansion plans follow the completion of new production facilities for separators at the Sakai Factory of Ube Industries in April 2018. Set to be completed in August 2020, the forthcoming expansion will bring the combined total production capacity for separator base films of Ube Industries and Ube Maxell to 320 million square meters annually.
Demand for separators, which are a key component of LiBs, will rapidly increase with the growth of electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid vehicles (HVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHVs). Furthermore, the use of LiBs in other applications such as energy storage systems and industrial applications is projected to further grow, which will also drive demand for separators.
Ube Industries manufactures separators using a dry process. These separators are extensively used in automotive LiBs, due to their performance qualities and safety. Ube Industries is increasing its production capacity for separators in order to meet growing demand. Additionally, Ube Maxell manufactures and markets high-performance coated separator films that combine separator base films made by Ube Industries, with advanced dispersion technologies and high speed, precision coating technologies from Maxell, realizing various performance advantages including superior reliability. These advantages have been strongly received by customers and Ube Maxell has seen a significant increase in sales volumes in recent years with the growth of the automotive LiB market in and outside of Japan.
On July 31, 2018, Ube Industries and Maxell reached basic agreement to reorganize the framework of their joint venture. The purpose of these changes is to strengthen competitiveness in the separator market, which is experiencing sustained rapid growth, and further expand and develop the joint venture business. The reorganization includes the transfer of Ube Industries’ separator business to Ube Maxell and the establishment of a new joint venture with Maxell for the manufacturing of coated separator products.
By expanding the production capacity for separators in a timely manner to meet growing demand, the companies will further strengthen their presence in the growing market for automotive applications, and plan to increase the total annual production capacity for separator base films in phases, to 400 million square meters in 2021 and beyond.