Nissan Pushes Lithium-ion Battery Development

By: RyanThomas

Nissan's Chief Executive Officer Carlos Ghosn recently claimed that the Japanese car manufacturer is working on the development of an advanced lithium-ion battery for automotive application. The said battery packs are being seen as the key component to the development of practical electric cars as well as gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

Ghosn also announced that Nissan and its Alliance partner Renault are developing a $3,000 car. The econocar will be introduced in the Indian market. It is expected that Tata Motors, Nissan's fiercest rival in India, will come up first with a car worth $3,000. Nissan is expected to follow soon after Tata unveils its low-priced car.

The demand for fuel efficient and environment friendly vehicles has led car manufacturers to develop advanced batteries for automotive application as hybrid vehicles are the most popular green vehicle. Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used on common gizmos like laptops and cell phones.

A lithium-ion battery weighs less than a nickel-metal hydride battery which is now being used by hybrid vehicles. Aside from being lighter than nickel-metal hydride batteries, Li-ion batteries can store more power. The problem that auto manufacturers are facing is to design a Li-ion battery which can stand the rigorous demand of automotive application.

Nissan is currently trailing Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda in terms of hybrid sales. In fact, it was only earlier this year that Nissan started marketing a hybrid vehicle in the form of the Nissan Altima Hybrid. But the hybrid Altima uses a hybrid drivetrain designed by Toyota. Nissan's own hybrid vehicle is expected to be introduced to the market by the turn of the decade.

Ghosn believes that if they are successful in developing a practical Li-ion battery pack for their hybrid vehicles, they can close the gap between them and Honda and Toyota. "We continue on the lithium ion battery. We think for us it's a competitive advantage," said Ghosn in a recent interview. "We have a lot of technology is this area, and we think this is going to be very helpful, not only for hybrids but also for electric cars."

Although demand for gas-electric hybrid vehicles is steadily increasing, Ghosn pointed out that Nissan is aiming to develop a fully electric powered vehicle in the future. And they would only succeed in developing an electric vehicle if they have an advanced power storage device. The Li-ion battery that Nissan is developing will complement other Nissan parts even the small .

"If you have an efficient battery for a hybrid, why not go all the way and go for electric cars? It has zero emissions of anything," said Ghosn.

Electric cars are the ideal solution to the growing pollution problem and increasing price of gasoline. One problem though that auto manufacturers are facing is the cost of production of electric cars. Another problem is the issue about recharging an electric vehicle's battery pack. Although these vehicles can be charged plugging it into a common household socket, it takes time before the battery is fully recharged. Another problem for automakers is how the public will react to electric cars.

"We said from the beginning, we need to develop all the technologies," said Ghosn stressing that hybrid vehicle is the only solution to the problems faced by the auto industry. "We can't afford to squeeze any one of them: hybrid, fuel cell, electric, diesel, biofuel. Because we still don't know how the market will react."

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