Nissan has long made its own electric car batteries thanks to Automotive Energy Supply, its team-up with NEC, but it appears to be having second thoughts. Sources speaking to both Nikkei and Reuters understand that Nissan plans to sell its controlling stake in AES, with NEC likely following suit. It’d just be less expensive to buy batteries from an outside supplier, according to tipsters. While it’s not certain who would snap up the business, the car maker is supposedly in talks with both Panasonic and “overseas companies” that include Chinese firms.
You won’t get Nissan to confirm the rumor any time soon: while it’s not denying the reports, it says they’re “speculation” and “not based on any announcement.” NEC and Panasonic aren’t commenting, either. A sale would make sense, though: the lithium-ion battery market is getting increasingly competitive at all scales, prompting even giants like Sony to sell to companies that can afford to cut costs and run on thinner profit margins.
If Nissan and NEC do jump ship, the potential buyer could have a lot of clout in the electric transportation world. Panasonic already has a close partnership with Tesla on car batteries — it’d become a powerhouse if it could scoop up the business of another big EV pioneer. Non-Japanese companies, meanwhile, could use this to get a leg up when supplying BYD and other automakers determined to ditch gas-powered cars. If there’s any truth to the rumors, you’ll see the repercussions for a long time to come.