The company will be making products such as solar energy systems, rechargeable batteries, fuel cells, water processing systems, air-conditioning equipment and heat pump water heaters, for the European market.

Mr Hiromoto Sekino, COO of Sanyo’s International Business Group told edie news that he expected to see the European market for environmentally friendly and energy efficient products to grow dramatically over the next few years.

“Forty three per cent of our R&D expenditure is invested in Energy and Ecology products and we anticipate that this business will deliver 32% of our sales. We plan to achieve European sales of €3.7 billion by 2010,” he said.

Production will be based at the company’s factory near Budapest in Hungary. The facility is already Europe’s largest lithium-ion rechargeable battery production factory, employing over 1,500 people. The new investment will see this expanded by 10,000 square metres to also become Europe’s largest photovoltaic module and air conditioning production facility.

Mr Sekino told edie news that Europe’s strong regulations and feed-in tariffs would drive the market for the new products, with Germany expected to be the biggest purchaser. He also saw no real problems with the sort of legislation that electronics manufacturers often see as unfavourable, such as the WEEE Directive or the Battery Directive, and said that all the new Sanyo products should be RoHS compliant by August 2005.

“It is our aim to be the number one supplier of environmentally friendly products in Europe. EU consumers are very environmentally conscious and we will meet all EU standards. The strong regulations are a positive thing for us,” Mr Sekino said.

The new factory will be in full-scale operation by October 2005 rising to a production capacity of 120,000 units a year by September 2006.

By David Hopkins

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie