Technology & Science

Nissan, NEC to make lithium-ion batteries for green cars

Nissan's joint venture with electronics maker NEC Corp. will invest $115 million US to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries — a technology widely viewed as key for next-generation green cars.

Nissan's joint venture with electronics maker NEC Corp. will invest $115 million US to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries — a technology widely viewed as key for next-generation green cars.

Carlos Tavares, Nissan Motor Co.'s executive vice-president, told reporters Monday the Japanese automaker wants to be a global leader in "zero-emission vehicles."

Lithium-ion batteries are more common in laptops and other gadgets, although all the world's automakers are working on applying the batteries for their cars.

Nissan's joint venture called Automotive Energy Supply Corp. plans to make advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cells — all technologies that have been lauded for their abilities to reduce pollution as well as global warming gases.

"Nissan firmly believes the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility lies in zero-emission vehicles," Tavares said at a Tokyo hotel.

A plant for the batteries, set to be running by 2009, will have annual production capacity of 65,000 and starting capacity of 13,000, Nissan said. The investment will cover three years, it said.

Tokyo-based Nissan has been sometimes criticized as falling behind Japanese rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in ecological technology.

Toyota has a big hit with its gas-electric hybrid, Prius, which has already crossed the one million sales mark worldwide. Honda also has its own hybrid and fuel-cell models.

Nissan has said it will introduce an electric vehicle in the United States and Japan, as well as its own hybrid, in 2010.

By 2012, Nissan plans to mass-market electric vehicles to consumers globally. It is also planning to make available on a wide scale zero-emission vehicles in Israel and Denmark in 2011.