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Nissan, Technology

Nissan-NEC Partnership on Lithium-ion

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NEC takes a new role with its partnership with Nissan Motors.

Nissan takes zero-emission vehicles and this kind of technology seriously. In fact, the company forged an agreement with electronics maker NEC Corp to start mass-producing lithium-ion batteries. Analysts believed that the future of next-generation cars and green cars lie on these types of batteries. The joint venture of the two companies will invest 12 billion yen or roughly $115 million in advancing the technology. The move of Nissan was part of the company’s vision to be the leader in zero-emission vehicles. Right now, lithium-ion batteries are usually seen on consumer electronics such as on laptops and other electronic gadgets. But automakers see the potential of these batteries, so these companies are developing ways and means so as to harness this technology. According to Nissan officials, the new batteries in development will be more powerful than half the size of nickel-metal hydride batteries that are used on ecological cars of today. But it isn’t all good news when it comes to lithium-ion batteries. Safety issues remain a top concern. Lithium-ion battery powered consumer electronics like cellphones and batteries tend to over heat and caught fire. But Nissan and NEC argues that their version of these batteries will be safer. The two companies mentioned that their laminated call batteries use a stable crystal structure called the spinel manganese, and this design will effectively eliminate the risk of over heating. The two companies plan to open the batteries to other automakers as well.

Nissan and NEC’s joint venture is the Automotive Energy Supply Corp., and plans to make advanced lithium-ion batteries for use on electric vehicles, hybrids and fuel cells. The plant of these batteries is set to run in 2009 and it is expected that the plant will have a production capacity of 65,000 and a starting capacity of 13,000. Investment will cover three years, Nissan officials said. The first products of the plant will be seen on the Nissan forklifts in 2009 but batteries on electric vehicles for the US market will be seen in 2010.

The move by Nissan is a response to growing remarks that the company lags behind its Japanese rival Toyota and Honda in terms of ecological technology. Toyota is known for their Prius, one of the company’s top-selling model. The model has already crossed the 1 million sales mark worldwide after a decade of presence in the market. For Honda, the company has its own hybrid and fuel-cell models. Nissan understands the importance of this technology and believes that this technology is the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility. And the partnership with NEC is one way of achieving the goal. Getting the plant starting is just part of the process for Nissan, since the company has said as well that it will introduce its very own hybrid in 2010 aside from the electric vehicles planned for US and Japan. The company has targeted 2012 as the year to mass-market electric vehicles.

Nissan’s entry to the lithium-ion battery market means competition. Toyota has also announced its plans to start mass-producing batteries for plug-in hybrids in the next few years. Toyota is expected to team-up with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., the same company that manufactures Panasonic products.

NEC Corporation is a Japanese multi-national IT company headquartered at Tokyo, Japan. The company is formerly known as the Nippon Electric Company, Limited. The company is known as a chip manufacturer, and one of the world’s top manufacturer of chips. In fact, NEC Semiconductors is considered as one of the world’s Top 20 semiconductor sales leaders. NEC celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1999. And the company’s deal and joint venture with Nissan was first planned in 1997. NEC’s business is divided into three segments; the IT Solutions, Network Solutions and Electronic Devices.

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