Nissan nears sale of battery unit to Chinese fund GSR
Automaker seeks to cut costs of electric vehicles by outsourcing
TOKYO -- Nissan Motor has entered the final stages of negotiation to sell its electric-vehicle battery unit to Chinese investment fund GSR group, The Nikkei learned Friday.
The deal likely will be worth around 110 billion yen ($988 million). By procuring batteries from an outside source, Nissan hopes to make electric vehicles more competitive on price, as the Japanese automaker positions this category as the mainstay of its green offerings. The batteries are said to account for roughly one-quarter of electric vehicle prices in general. Lowering the costs via mass production has been a challenge.
Nissan owns 51% of battery unit Automotive Energy Supply, which was founded in 2007 and is located in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Zama. Fellow Japanese company NEC holds a 49% stake.
Automotive Energy Supply produces lithium-ion batteries used in the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle and elsewhere. The unit's global market share in automotive batteries ranked second in 2015, trailing just Panasonic.
Nissan apparently is also in talks with GSR to sell its U.S. and U.K. facilities that make automotive batteries. The carmaker intends to exit operations employing existing lithium-ion battery technologies, while continuing research and development of next-generation batteries made with new materials.
GSR is strong in information technology and environmental offerings. The fund has invested in automotive battery makers in the U.S. and China. Automotive Energy Supply's design and production know-how would help GSR cultivate its battery supply operations in China, where the electric vehicle market is expanding quickly.
Electric vehicle specialist Tesla and Panasonic opened a massive automotive battery plant in the U.S. state of Nevada in January, while Chinese and South Korean manufacturers are moving to boost their own production capacity.