Nissan poised to name new U.S. battery supplier

NASHVILLE — Nissan Motor Co. will announce a U.S. battery supplier for its next-generation electric vehicles “in a few weeks,” the automaker’s Americas chief Jeremie Papin said at the Automotive News Congress here Wednesday.

This year, Nissan said it would invest $500 million to turn its Canton, Miss., assembly plant into a “center for EV manufacturing and technology.” Under that overhaul, Canton will produce two new EVs, one for the Nissan brand, the other for Infiniti, starting in 2025.

“There is a need to have a very close connection between the battery supplier and the car manufacturer,” Papin said. “The knowledge that is being shared between the two is very much at the heart of a battery-electric vehicle.”

Nissan currently sources batteries for the U.S.-made Leaf hatchback from the Smyrna, Tenn., battery plant majority-owned by Chinese energy company Envision Group. That battery factory was originally built and owned by Nissan at the outset of the EV era, with plans to supply as many as 150,000 vehicles a year.

But Nissan’s early plans for EV adoption did not materialize. AutoForecast Solutions estimates that the Smyrna battery plant can supply 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles with battery packs.

Nissan is already thinking of grander production ambitions.

Last week, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta teased plans for a third U.S. factory, possibly for EVs, in the region by the end of the decade.

The announcement comes as Nissan’s new business strategy de-emphasizes volume for value. Meanwhile, Nissan’s U.S. assembly plants were operating at less than 50 percent at the end of last year, according to AutoForecast.

One Wednesday, Papin reiterated that capacity escalation is necessary.

“We are very confident about the growth in EVs,” Papin said.

Nissan expects EVs to account for 40 percent of its U.S. sales by 2030.

To meet those anticipated needs, Papin said, Nissan requires additional investments in U.S. production capacity.

“As we build the brand and there’s advocacy and loyalty into the brand,” the need for production expansion is a “normal next step of what will happen when you are looking out seven years from now,” Papin said.

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