Nissan has announced the start-up of mass production of lithium-ion batteries.

The company has partnered with Japanese electronics giant, NEC, to invest JPY12bn (EUR74m) in a new plant in Zama in Kanagawa province. The plant will be run by a joint venture between Nissan and NEC called Automotive Energy Supply.

Initial capacity will be 13,000 batteries a year, although this could later be expanded to 65,000.

The first application for the new batteries is a small light commercial vehicle for the domestic market. According to dpa, Nissan vice president Carlos Tavares said Nissan is convinced that the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility in vehicles is zero emissions, a point made also by company president Carlos Ghosn at a recent media event in Portugal.

From 2010 the batteries should also be used in electric cars that will be initially sold in the US and Japan, and then on other markets by 2012.

Renault is also expected to use the batteries when it launches electric car programmes in Israel and Denmark in 2011-12.