Nissan – NEC to make more powerful lithium ion batteries for eco cars

Japan's third largest automaker, Nissan today said that it would invest about $115 million through Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), its three way joint venture with NEC Corp, and NEC Tokin, to mass-produce lithium-ion batteries, critical for next-generation "eco-friendly cars."

Nissan expects the new batteries to be more powerful and half the size of nickel-metal hydride batteries used in electric vehicles currently and are widely regarded as a key component to making petrol-electric hybrid cars more cost-competitive and reducing the volume of battery packs in giving pure electric cars more practical.

"Nissan firmly believes the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility lies in zero emission vehicles,'' said Nissan vice president Carlos Tavares. ''Electric vehicles represent one clear strategic direction embedded in Nissan GT 2012, our new mid-term business plan."

Nissan plans to launch its hybrid in 2010 to compete with Toyota's Prius, and also mass market electric vehicles for the US and Japanese markets by 2012.

The first commercial application for AESC's Li-Ion  batteries is scheduled for forklifts for small business operators in 2009, to be followed by Nissan's electric vehicle, due out in the US and Japan, as well as Nissan's original hybrid vehicle in 2010.

AESC will focus on the development and mass production of advanced lithium-ion batteries for a wide range of automotive applications from hybrids, electric vehicles to fuel-cell vehicles. NEC and NEC TOKIN will provide the cell-technology and electrode production.