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Nissan and Daimler May Expand Partnership to Include Electric Car Batteries

Both automakers see an advantage in pooling resources.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance and Daimler may expand an existing technical partnership to include development of electric car batteries. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Franco-Japanese conglomerate, and Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche discussed the idea in a joint news conference, reports Reuters. The two executives believe pooling resources could be helpful given the anticipated future importance of electric cars.

Zetsche, who recently stepped down from his position as head of Daimler’s management board, said each company could potentially pursue different avenues of battery research. Automakers are searching for an alternative to the lithium-ion chemistry used in all electric car batteries that can yield fast charging times and greater energy-storage capacity.

Ghosn said the auto industry is seeing increased demand for electric cars, and that a shortage of battery cells and electric motors is keeping automakers from meeting demand.

Daimler plans to produce batteries for a future range of electric cars under its Accumotive subsidiary. Nissan plans to sell its Automotive Energy Supply Corp. (AESC) battery division to China’s Envision Group for an undisclosed sum, claiming that third parties can supply batteries at a lower cost.

Both automakers are planning to expand their lineups of electric cars. Daimler plans to launch a line of Mercedes-Benz electric cars under the “EQ” sub-brand, starting with the EQ C crossover. It is also expected to make Smart all-electric globally by 2020. Nissan plans to launch eight new all-electric cars over the next few years, finally expanding its lineup beyond the Leaf and eNV200 van.

The alliance between the two companies dates back to 2010 and has primarily focused on joint vehicle development projects. The current-generation Renault Twingo and Smart ForTwo were developed together, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA was rebadged to become the Infiniti QX30 for Nissan’s luxury brand. Nissan returned the favor by offering the Navara pickup truck as the basis for the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.