By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Hitachi will boost its plasma panel output to four million units when the company opens a new assembly factory in Malaysia this May which will produce many of the plasma televisions sold in the Australian market.

Located at the site of an existing Hitachi Electronic Products factory, the Malaysian plasma plant will assemble the company’s conventional high definition plasma televisions while its Japanese plant has been revamped to produce a new range of full high definition panels with 1920×1080 resolution.

Full high definition flat panel televisions, both LCD and plasma, are expected to be met with massive demand towards the latter part of the year when major manufacturers expand their offerings.

Hitachi’s new production facility will initially concentrate on 42-inch models but could expand production to include 50-inch and larger models in the future, with the bulk of the units being shipped to Australia, Thailand, Singapore and the Middle East.

According to Forbes, Hitachi sold 60,000 plasma televisions in these countries last year but hopes to double this figure with the added capacity the new factory provides.

According to Hitachi Australia product manager, Mark Lawson, Hitachi’s annual plasma panel output will rise to four million this year with the addition of the new production lines.

Lawson denies common media reports that the growing popularity of LCD is forcing plasma manufacturers to scale back production.

“We are always increasing our production and certainly with plasma we have a factory which just came online late last year and we’re increasing up to four million panels for plasma,” said Lawson.

“We have a dedicated LCD factory that we are partners in with Panasonic and there continues to be big demand for LCD and for plasma. The plasma factory we brought online in Japan late last year will be making all of our full high definition panels.”

Hitachi also has a plasma production facility in Mexico City fuelling its American market and will also open a new facility in Czech Republic to support its European operation.

Hitachi will continue to produce both LCD and plasma TVs, focussing on plasma for premium, large-screen home cinema applications in sizes 42-inches and over and LCD as an all-purpose alternative in sizes ranging from 26 inches to 37 inches.