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NEC, Nissan lob $1.1bn at 'lectric car battery biz

Japan shames America

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In the States, tech giants can't build their own electric-car-battery plant without begging the government for the money. But in Japan, things are different.

According to a report from the Nikkei business daily - kindly flagged by Reuters - Nissan and NEC will invest at least $1.1bn in an effort to churn out lithium-ion batteries for roughly 200,000 electric and hybrid cars a year by early next decade. The two companies have already joined forces with NEC Tokin - a semi-NEC-spin-off - to produce lithium-ions for about 13,000 vehicles in 2009.

Next year, these batteries will be slotted into electric forklifts, but as production ramps, they'll also be used in Nissan's own electric and hybrid cars, slated for arrival in 2010.

With their fresh $1.1bn investment, Nissan and NEC plan to build a new lithium-ion battery factory in 2011 or later. Meanwhile, a consortium of US tech companies is requesting $1bn in federal aid to build a factory that would allow them to "catch up to Asian rivals."

Nissan, NEC, and NEC Tokin (a company that integrated with NEC's electronic components business in 2002) will build their lithium-ions through a joint venture dubbed the Automotive Energy Supply Corp. According to Nikkei and Reuters, the AESC is mulling factories in the US and Europe, where it can snap up low-interest loans offered by green-happy local governments.

Three other Japanese car manufacturers - Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Honda - have also announced joint ventures that will build batteries for 'leccy and hybrid cars. ®

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