The battery maker for Nissan Motor Co’s Leaf vehicles is adding a factory in China to more than triple its global capacity and lure more customers in the world’s biggest electric-vehicle (EV) market.
Automotive Energy Supply Corp (AESC) began construction of the factory in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, this year with a planned annual capacity of 20 gigawatt-hours, enough to power 400,000 electric vehicles a year, Envision Group (遠景能源) chief executive Zhang Lei (張雷) said.
The Chinese wind-energy company, which purchased a controlling stake in the battery business from Nissan, has three facilities in Japan, the US and the UK that can produce a combined 7.5 gigawatt-hours of batteries for electric vehicles a year.
“China has no shortage of EV battery makers, but it lacks one with products that people will feel absolutely safe to take their families around in,” Zhang said on Sunday in an interview in Shanghai.
China aims to sell 7 million new-energy vehicles annually by 2025, including pure-battery electric, hybrid plug-ins and fuel-cell vehicles.
Automakers such as Tesla Inc, Volkswagen AG (VW) and Daimler AG are teaming up with battery makers, including Contemporary Amperex Technology Co (時代新能源科技), to secure supplies as they prepare to release more EVs.
Zhang did not provide an investment figure for the factory, which is scheduled to begin mass production next year at the earliest.
Separately, Volkswagen chief executive officer Herbert Diess seeks to craft a review of the automaker’s sprawling Chinese operations while containing tensions at home in Germany.
“China emerged as a powerhouse of the automotive industry,” Diess told reporters late on Sunday at a presentation near Shanghai.
The country is expanding its role as a production hub and VW would also allocate more research and development operations to China, he said.
China plays a key role for the world’s biggest automaker because of VW’s large footprint in a market that is set to lead the industry’s shift toward electric vehicles, Diess said.
“As a brand, we want to be number one in terms of electric mobility in China and beyond,” he said.
Last month, Diess said that VW is considering the option of increasing stakes in local joint ventures to expand in the world’s largest auto market, part of a strategy review due to be completed by early next year.
His chances of boosting VW’s equity ties in China might be the best yet, as Chinese authorities ease restrictions for foreign manufacturers and slowing market growth adds pressure on local peers.
“All three joint ventures will benefit” as VW intends to “do more with all of them,” Diess said.
VW has ties with SAIC Motor Corp (上海汽車) and FAW Car Co (一汽轎車), two of China’s largest manufacturers, after being one of the first foreign automakers to arrive in China more than three decades ago.
It is exploring options to acquire a stake in its third partner, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp (江淮汽車), which is much smaller than SAIC or FAW.
Any broader initiative would still have to involve those two as well.
“We have a lot to offer — and together we can be the strongest alliance in the industry,” Diess told the company’s staff newspaper last month.
“This is a great opportunity for us and we need to take advantage of it,” he said.
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