IMAGE: LITHIUM-ION BATTERY
Yoshikazu Tsuno  /  AFP-Getty Images
Toshiba showed off its new lithium-ion battery at  company headquarters in Tokyo on Tuesday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 12/13/2007 10:29:35 AM ET 2007-12-13T15:29:35

A new battery that can be recharged to 90 percent capacity in under five minutes and lasts 10 years will start shipping in March, Toshiba Corp. announced this week, hailing it as "a new energy solution" for cleaner transportation.

Toshiba plans to initially make the quick-charging Super Charge ion Battery for electric bikes, forklifts, construction machinery and other industrial use. It can work in temperatures as low as minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

A newcomer in rechargeable batteries, Toshiba said the lithium-ion battery could be used in hybrid and electric cars by 2010, Mochida said.

Battery innovations are expected to be key in making hybrid vehicles more widespread, because lighter and easier-to-recharge batteries will improve efficiency. They could also spark mass-produced plug-in hybrids and and even resurrect the idea of all-electric vehicles that use no fossil fuel.

"This is a truly innovative battery," said Toshiba Corporate Vice President Toshiharu Watanabe, emphasizing its potential "in the electronic vehicles markets as a new energy solution."

Most lithium-ion batteries in use now, such as those in laptop computers, require hours to recharge to full capacity, with the fastest ones requiring about half an hour.

Toshiba also said its new battery, which is estimated to last 5,000 charges, is unlikely to rupture or catch fire, problems that have beset some lithium-ion batteries used in laptops.

The Tokyo-based electronics maker expects global sales of the new fast-charging battery to reach nearly $900 million by fiscal 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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