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Nissan Leaf's battery supplier builds factory in China

Beijing

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 in China's eastern Jiangsu province this year with a planned annual capacity of 20 gigawatt-hours, enough to power 400,000 electric cars a year, said Zhang Lei, chief executive officer of Envision Group.

The Chinese wind energy company, which purchased a controlling stake in the battery business from Nissan, currently 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.

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"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," Mr Zhang said in an interview in Shanghai on April 14.

China aims to sell seven million new-energy vehicles annually by 2025, including pure-battery electric, hybrid plug-ins and fuel cell vehicles. Carmakers such as Tesla, Volkswagen and Daimler are all teaming up with battery makers including Contemporary Amperex Technology Co to secure supplies as they prepare to release more EVs.

Mr Zhang did not provide an investment figure for the factory, which is scheduled to begin mass production next year at the earliest.

While AESC tries to gain orders from other global carmakers, it will continue to supply Nissan's electric cars including the Leaf, which is a key reason that the Japanese carmaker still holds a 20 per cent stake, said Zhao Weijun, head of AESC's China business. BLOOMBERG