Nissan-NEC Plans to Mass-Produce Lithium-Ion Batteries
By Brendan Moore
Nissan’s joint venture with NEC, named Automotive Energy Supply Corp., plans to make the advanced lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cells that will be part of the important technologies to reduce pollution as well as gases linked to global warming. Nissan has recently stated that they intend to go after the EV (electric vehicle) market full-force, and made an announcement last week that they intend to sell hybrids, plug-in hybrids and an EV in the U.S. by 2010. The company says they will have worldwide sales of zero-emission electric vehicles by 2012.
Nissan and NEC will immediately invest $115 million USD in the lithium-ion manufacturing facility. A new 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. The first commercial products with the new batteries are Nissan forklifts in 2009, but electric vehicles for the U.S. and Japanese market will follow in 2010.
The new battery Nissan and NEC are developing will be half the size of a nickel-hydride battery, while having twice the power, according to NEC, Japan’s largest personal computer maker. Lithium-ion batteries are currently used to power MP3 players, mobile phones and notebook computers. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter and can hold more power than current nickel-metal ones, but lithium is a much less stable power cell that can ignite when overheated as some laptops and phones have done in the past.
Nissan envisions that the EVs powered with the new battery will run at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) on a single battery charge, Automotive Energy President Masahiko Otsuka said. That would put the Nissan battery on par with the performance goal of other would-be hybrid and EV manufacturers, in particular the Chevrolet Volt, expected to hit the market in calendar year 2010.
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