While Li-ion battery makers in the US are going cap-in-hand to the government in search of federal aid to keep up with foreign companies, it's been rumored that Nissan and NEC are about to invest around $1 billion of their own capital into making batteries for electric cars.
The two companies plan to put at least $1.1 billion into building a new Li-ion battery plant in around 2011, producing enough batteries for 200,000 vehicles annually. The Japanese firms are already partnering with NEC Tokin (an NEC spin-off) to push power cells for around 13,000 vehicles next year, ramping up to 65,000 by 2011--these are initially vehicles like forklifts, but they'll also go into Nissan electric and hybrid vehicles scheduled for 2010 (pictured is its concept swiveling-wheel Pivo electric vehicle.)
The new venture will be dubbed the Automotive Energy Supply Corp., and may also consider factory locations in Europe or, ironically, the US--locations made attractive by government incentives for green-tech factories. The AESC also plans to deliver power units to other companies for inclusion in their electric vehicles. Nissan is partnering with Renault, for example, to produce its own hybrid and all-electric cars.
The automotive industry may be about to reinvent itself, it seems.