TOKYO: Nissan Motor Co is unveiling plans for a second car-battery factory in as many months, betting that demand for electric vehicles (EVs) will justify the investment in additional capacity.
Envision AESC and Nissan will jointly operate the plant, to be built in Ibaraki prefecture north of Tokyo with an initial investment of 50 billion yen (US$456mil or RM1.93bil) and annual production capacity of six gigawatt-hours in 2023, according to a document seen by Bloomberg.
The plans, to be announced today, include spending as much as 100 billion yen (RM3.86bil) and boosting output to 18 gigawatt-hours after about five years, or roughly enough for 163,000 Nissan Leaf EVs.
Last month, Nissan and Envision AESC unveiled plans to create a £1bil (US$1.4bil or RM5.87bil) EV-manufacturing hub in Britain. Automakers globally have struck several deals this year to add battery manufacturing capacity as they seek to shift away from gasoline-burning engines.
Ford Motor Co and South Korea’s SK Innovation Co are building EV batteries at two factories in the United States, while Volkswagen AG has committed US$29bil (RM122.49bil) to challenge Tesla Inc.
AESC used to be part of Nissan until 2018, when the Japanese automaker sold a majority stake in the electric-car battery business to Envision Group, a Shanghai-based sustainable energy company. Nissan still owns 20% of AESC.
Azusa Momose, a spokeswoman for Nissan, declined to comment on the plans but added: “We are not able to directly comment on Envision AESC’s plant in Ibaraki prefecture, but they are one of our key partners, as they are the battery supplier for Leaf vehicles for over 10 years and are planning to build a new battery plant in the UK adjacent to the Sunderland plant.”
However, as Yokohama-based Nissan seeks to keep closer tabs on battery development and ensure access to the critical EV component, it’s now exploring ways to increase its stake or deepen its alliance with Envision AESC, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Originally called Automotive Energy Supply Corp, the car battery manufacturer was created in 2007 as a joint venture between Nissan and NEC Corp as Nissan prepared to introduce the Leaf, which once commanded a sales lead before Tesla’s ascendancy.
Makoto Uchida, Nissan’s chief executive officer, said in a Bloomberg Television interview last month that the UK project was just the “start in our electrification strategy.” — Bloomberg