Nissan denies plans to sell its battery business but press speculation continues

Speculation over the presumed sale of Nissan’s battery business, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, to electronics maker Panasonic continued in August. Although the car manufacturer continued to deny claims of a possible sale, media reports and analysts continued to think otherwise.

AESC is a joint venture between Nissan and NEC.

Stuart Boyd, an official for Nissan in the UK, told Batteries International that the speculation was “not based on any announcement by us”, although he did not deny the claim.

One leading industry analyst says he would not be surprised if the automaker were looking for a buyer.

The problem, though, was finding one.

He said the future was in bringing a 60 kWh battery to market to match General Motors’ Chevrolet Bolt, which comes out in January.

“Who would want to buy it?” he said. “In October, Nissan will release a 30kWh battery pack. Next year it will bring out a 40kWh pack. A 60kWh pack is at least a year away, and that’s a long time in this industry.

“I don’t even know if Panasonic would want to buy it, because of complications with its relationship with China, Japan and Korea. Maybe Panasonic would buy it for political reasons. But it makes cylindrical cells, where AESC makes pouch cells.”

According to Japan’s Nikkei Daily, which broke the story in early August, “two people with knowledge of the matter” said the automaker wanted to sell its 51% stake in AESC. It claimed that Nissan was in talks with overseas companies including Chinese firms as well as Panasonic, which makes batteries for automaker Tesla.

Our insider said he believed people haven’t realised the impact that GM’s new Bolt would have on the EV market next year because of its 60kWh battery. “No one can keep up,” he said. “Even Tesla is still a year away with its Model 3.”