Bat­tery maker plans base in South­east Asia

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By LYUCHANG lvchang@chi­

China’s largest lead-acid bat­tery maker is plan­ning to build a pro­duc­tion base in South­east Asia to ex­pand ex­ports amid ris­ing costs in the world’s se­cond-largest econ­omy, the­com­pany’s chair­man said.

“There is a grow­ing de­mand for bat­ter­ies in­mar­kets such as Viet­nam and the Philip­pines,” said Zhang Tian­ren, chair­man of Tian­neng Group, based in East China’s Zhe­jiang prov­ince. “As pro­duc­tion cost surges in China, we want to lo­cate our plants closer to our clients and bet­ter serve them.”

The fac­tory will also serve as a base to tap into neigh­bor­ing coun­tries, he said.

The bat­tery in­dus­try faces a com­pe­ti­tion much more in­tense than other in­dus­tries as au­tomak­ers, which are rac­ing to make cheaper elec­tric cars with longer bat­tery life, have be­come more price-con­scious.

Zhang said the com­pany is not only seek­ing to re­duce costs but is also look­ing into tech­no­log­i­cal break­throughs, the only way out amid the price-cut­ting com­pe­ti­tion.

Apart from South­east Asia, the com­pany has been co­op­er­at­ing with a Ger­man firm in Europe. In 2007, it be­came the first main­land bat­tery com­pany to list on the Hong Kong Stock Ex­change.

Tian­neng, the big­gest Chi­nese elec­tric-bike bat­tery sup­plier, fo­cuses its busi­nesses on lead-acid bat­tery tech­nolo­gies, which is con­sid­ered as lower cost and less en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly com­pared with lithium-ion bat­ter­ies.

The type of lead-acid bat­ter­ies is used largely in elec­tric bikes and low-speed elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

But the com­pany plans to ex­pand its busi­ness in the field of lithium-ion and stor­age bat­ter­ies, as China, the world’s largest en­ergy con­sumer, en­cour­ages more in­no­va­tion in re­search and de­vel­op­ment of lithium-ion bat­ter­ies and shut down some small and il­le­gal lead-acid bat­tery mak­ers to curb pol­lu­tion.

Zhang said China pro­duces 3.3 mil­lion tons of scrap leadacid bat­ter­ies ev­ery year, a ma­jor source of pol­lu­tion if not han­dled well, but it could be a lu­cra­tive mar­ket if it was treated prop­erly.

The com­pany spent 1.8 bil­lion yuan ($276 mil­lion) on a fac­tory to re­cy­cle used leadacid bat­ter­ies in Zhe­jiang in 2009, which is able to han­dle 150,000 tons a year. It has also de­vel­oped in­dus­trial clus­ters for the re­cy­cling of the me­tals.

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