According to Japan's Asahi paper, Sony is considering moving production of its rechargeable lithium-ion batteries overseas. Sony has not confirmed the potential move, but is allegedly considering changing its Tochigi Prefecture manufacturing facility to a research institute, shifting about 500 employees there into other locations or early retirement. It's also apparently reviewing two other offices in Fukushima Prefecture, where production was stopped at six plants during the earthquake last year. If production were outsourced, it would go to China and Singapore by the end of 2013.
If the move were to occur, it would affect the batteries produced for small electronic devices like phones, but also those made for electric cars, which are expected to see increased demand in the coming years. Asahi has speculated that a strong yen is increasing the cost of producing within Japan, and that a move could let Sony keep up with demand while lowering prices. It's also possible that long-term effects of the Fukushima disaster have made production more difficult at those offices. Since Sony also provides batteries for companies like Dell, HP and Toshiba, any change in price or availability could have wide-reaching effects on the electronics industry.