Toray Industries will build a factory producing separators for electric-vehicle batteries in Hungary. The Japanese manufacturer plans to invest 200 million euros in the factory near an existing carbon-fibre plant outside Budapest.
The facility will boost Toray’s separator production capacity by 20%, supplementing plants in Japan and South Korea. The factory, scheduled to go online in July 2021, answers an increasing demand for such components. This is being brought about by the incoming CO2 emission regulations in the EU.
Separators are thin membranes that sit between the anode and cathode of a lithium-ion battery to prevent them from coming into contact – a potential fire hazard. The global market for these components jumped 20% last year on a square-meter basis, according to Nikkei. Toray is believed to control more than half the market for separators with the high heat resistance required for use in automotive batteries.
Toray is not alone in its approach to Eastern Europe, that was announced in 2017. SK Innovation too, is planning the construction of a new battery separator plant in Poland. The South Korean company is investing 335 million euros in building four production lines for lithium-ion separators (LiBS) and three more for ceramic coated separators (CCS) in the Polish province of Silesia. Also Toray’s largest competitor, Asahi Kasei is investing in increasing its production capacities of separators as reported.
Plus, the components manufacturers are in good company. BMW wants to build a facility for 150,000 vehicles a year in Hungary this year. And, the German industrial group ThyssenKrupp has announced the construction of a new component plant for the auto industry in Hungary. Series production is scheduled to start at the end of 2020 and includes parts for electric motors.