TOKYO --- Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC) announced it has begun full operations, focusing on the development and mass production of advanced lithium-ion batteries for a wide range of automotive applications -- from hybrids, electric vehicles to fuel-cell vehicles.

AESC is a joint venture of Nissan Motor Co., NEC Corp. and its subsidiary NEC TOKIN Corp.

With an initial start-up capital of 1.5 billion yen (US $14.3 million), the equity stakeholding between Nissan, NEC Corp. and NEC TOKIN Corp. stands at 51:42:7, respectively.

AESC will invest 12.0 billion yen (US $114.6 million) over a three-year period in a manufacturing facility to be located at Nissan's Zama facility in Kanagawa Prefecture. The facility is expected to be operational by 2009. Production capacity will be at 65,000 units, with initial start-up capacity to begin at 13,000 units a year. Under the Invest Kanagawa scheme, AESC has submitted its application for a total investment of 13.4 billion yen (US $128.0 million) and expects to be granted an incentive package.

To support AESC’s production demand, NEC TOKIN will invest 11.0 billion yen (US $105.1 million) over the next three years at its NEC Sagamihara Plant in Kanagawa Prefecture, to mass produce lithium-manganese electrodes by 2009.

AESC will market its battery products to potential customers in the automotive industry worldwide.

"Nissan firmly believes the ultimate solution for sustainable mobility lies in zero-emission vehicles. Electric vehicles represent one clear strategic direction embedded in Nissan GT 2012, our new mid-term business plan," said Carlos Tavares, executive vice president of Nissan.

"NEC's expertise in developing safe and low-cost lithium-manganese batteries combined with NEC TOKIN's strength in electrode-material technology and production will contribute significantly to AESC's competitiveness. By promoting AESC's batteries for wide-scale vehicle application, NEC is doing our part for the global environment by contributing to help reduce CO2 emissions," said Konosuke Kashima, executive vice president of NEC.

The first commercial application for AESC's li-ion batteries is destined for forklifts for small business operators in 2009. This will be followed by Nissan's electric vehicle, to be introduced in the U.S. and Japan, as well as Nissan's original hybrid vehicle in 2010. By 2012, Nissan has announced its plans to mass-market electric vehicles to consumers globally, which will boost demand for batteries significantly.