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Nissan, NEC may make lithium-ion cell for hybrid cars

Nissan Motor Co. and NEC Corp. are in talks to jointly develop lithium-ion batteries for use in gasoline-electric hybrid and fuel-cell cars to cut costs and improve performance, both companies said.

The automaker, Japan's second-largest, and NEC, the nation's biggest maker of personal computers, may form a venture to develop, produce and sell the cells, Nissan spokeswoman Keiko Hoshino and NEC spokesman Makoto Miyagawa said. Details haven't been decided, they said. Nissan has been working on a new lithium-ion battery to be used in hybrids, fuel-cell vehicles and electric cars it plans to introduce after 2010. The venture with NEC would compete with a battery company formed by Toyota Motor Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. NEC and Nissan plan to start mass production of the cells by 2010, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported earlier, without saying where it got the information. The venture, to be formed next year, is expected to spend more than ¥10 billion ($84 million) to build a factory to make the batteries. Nissan's stake will be less than 50%, Nikkei said. Nissan initially chose not to follow when Toyota started selling hybrids nine years ago. The company bought parts from Toyota to use in its Altima model hybrid, which will go on sale in the US early next year. Lithium-ion batteries are lighter than the nickel hydride batteries currently used because they have a higher charge capacity per unit of weight, Nissan has said. Lithium-ion batteries will enable vehicles to be much lighter and more fuel- efficient, the automaker has said. (Bloomberg)