Automotive News reported (registration required) that while Nissan has in hand a laminated lithium ion battery (based on a manganese spinel cathode material) for use in its plug-in hybrid electric Leaf model, the automaker is already working on its next-generation battery design – and it may be sold to other automakers.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told Automotive News that he expects the next-generation battery pack to be smaller and lighter than the current design. He also expects the new battery to be less expensive to manufacture.
“If you want to be in control of the cost, you’d better be involved [with the development],” Ghosn said. “We want to make sure we can drive the battery where we want to go.”
Ghosn revealed little else about the next-gen battery, but Nissan is working with Oak Ridge National Lab to develop batteries. ORNL has said a battery capable of delivering 400 miles on a single charge is feasible.
Nissan also believes it can make money simply by developing and manufacturing batteries, largely by selling them to other automakers. A plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, will reportedly be able to build 200,000 batteries each year, and Ghosn says Nissan will “sell the battery to whoever is interested.” Nissan received a $1.6 billion low-interest DOE loan to set up the plant, which should be operational in 2012.
Ghosn has noted several times that Nissan expect electric vehicles to be 10% of its global sales by 2020.