Six leading Japanese manufacturers of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are to work together on developing lower energy production methods and next-generation LCD panels.

The companies, which include NEC Corp., Sharp Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp., have established a joint venture company, Advanced LCD Technologies Development Center Co. Ltd., to work on the new technology which they hope will halve the energy required to produce LCDs, the companies announced Monday. Each owns an equal portion of the company.

The companies are keen to develop energy-saving manufacturing methods as LCD production levels are climbing fast and Japanese makers find themselves increasingly locked in price battles with South Korean and Taiwanese makers. Working on such technology alone, it will be difficult for each company to achieve success, so the partners decided to form a joint venture.

The joint venture will tie together researchers from the six LCD makers and also those from universities. Some of the work will be partially funded by the Japanese government because it stands to advance the nation’s LCD industry.

The global LCD market is forecast to double between now and 2006 to reach US$1.3 billion, according to a report from industry analysts Stanford Resources Inc. Demand for the products is rising fast as the screens are increasingly being used in a range of digital consumer electronics equipment from notebook computers and cellular telephones to flat screen televisions and car navigation systems.

Advanced LCD Technologies Development Center Co. Ltd., in Yokohama, can be contacted at

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