Nissan Motor Company, NEC Corporation and its subsidiary, NEC TOKIN Corporation, are forming a joint venture company – Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) – to focus on lithium-ion battery business for wide-scale automotive application by 2009.

Nissan and NEC will invest JPY490m ($US4.1m) in the partnership. AESC is expected to begin operations by the end of this month, and will operate as an independent company focused on the development, production, and marketing of advanced lithium-ion batteries, designed to power future generations of electric-powered vehicles.

After a year, the partnership will be expanded to include mass production and sales. The new joint venture will become the leading company in mass production of lithium-ion batteries for the global automotive community using pioneering technologies developed by Nissan and NEC group, the partnership claimed.

NEC and NEC Tokin bring expertise in cell technology and battery manufacturing; while Nissan will focus on the cell stack for application in electric-powered vehicles.

AESC’s core product will be advanced lithium-ion batteries for automotive application and the company will be fully responsible for marketing its products to other potential customers in the auto industry.

AESC will mass produce lithium-ion batteries with a set of unique properties claimed to make them a highly competitive and appealing energy-generation solution for automotive application.

Among the multiple advantages that the new batteries will offer are cutting-edge and environmentally-friendly technology, cost competitiveness, superior performance, safety and versatility.

Nissan’s partnership with NEC represents a key component of the automaker’s ‘Nissan Green Program 2010’ mid-term environmental action plan, announced in December, 2006.

Nissan will introduce its own-design hybrid vehicle by 2010, followed by a next generation electric vehicle in the early part of the next decade, according to executive vice-president Carlos Tavares.

“Together, Nissan and NEC’s engineers have addressed the key challenges of cost, performance, safety and reliability – we believe that we have a breakthrough technology in the lithium-ion battery product we will produce. Through AESC, this battery will be made available to all automakers, and we expect this could further accelerate the development of future generations of eco-friendly vehicles,” said Tavares.

“Further co-development with Nissan has enabled a superior-class battery that we expect to spread in the market at an unmatched speed due to the wealth of benefits it will assuredly bring to our future eco-conscious customers,” said Konosuke Kashima, executive vice president of NEC.

“Moreover, the alliance with Nissan guarantees Nissan as a prospective customer of AESC. We will also strive to accelerate growth by expanding marketing to auto manufacturers worldwide.”

Both companies are confident that there is a ready and growing market for lithium-ion batteries in the future.