Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Toshiba plans bike battery plant

Schwinn Tailwind
The Schwinn Tailwind is powered by Toshiba's SCiB

Toshiba has announced plans to build a new factory to make its new super charge ion battery (SCiB), which can be used in electric vehicles.

Toshiba said it had selected a site in northwest Japan for the plant. Local media reports say it will cost up to 30bn yen ($332m; 224m).

SCiBs charge more quickly than lithium ion and are supposed to retain their charge for longer.

They were first sold in April and are being used on electric bicycles.

Electric cars

Toshiba is in talks with other companies that might use the batteries, including a major carmaker, according to a company spokesperson.

Schwinn, which makes the SCiB-powered Tailwind bicycle, says that it will fully recharge in 30 minutes, compared with a normal charging time of four hours for electric bicycles.

Whoever wins the race to design a lightweight, high-capacity, quick-charging battery for electric cars will make a great deal of money from it.

Most batteries currently used in electric vehicles are extremely bulky - the one in the electric Mini, for example, takes up the whole of the back-seat area.



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