Nissan's Smyrna Plant
Nissan officially announced a definitive sale and purchase agreement with GSR Capital (GSR), a private investment fund, for the sale of Nissan’s electric battery operations and production facilities to GSR.
Thus ends a 10 year experiment for Nissan to build its own battery cells and packs.
While negotiations with GSR had been progressing over the past couple of months, we just recently learned that NEC (Nissan's battery partner) had exited the EV battery business, so we figured this announcement would soon follow.
Nissan will sell almost its entire electric battery operations from around the world, including:
- Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) subsidiary, which is first to be acquired by Nissan from NEC (and then repackaged and sold to GSR)
- battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA)
- battery manufacturing operations in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (U.K.) Ltd. (NMUK)
- part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama
Nissan battery facility in Zama, Japan
Indeed, Nissan encourages that AESC will remain "a very important partner for Nissan", so it does seem AESC will still be providing at least some quantity of battery packs, if not cells as well, for Nissan EVs going forward.
This decision and sale, also frees Nissan up to more actively pursue and promote other partnerships. We anticipate some joint Nissan-LG Chem press releases are on the near-term horizon (think 60 kWh battery packs for the new LEAF, and future sedan/utility vehicles).
"The sale and purchase agreement covers Nissan’s battery subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), as well as battery manufacturing operations in Smyrna, Tennessee, owned by Nissan North America Inc. (NNA), and in Sunderland, England, owned by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (U.K.) Ltd. (NMUK). Assets sold to GSR will also include part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama."
"The workforce at all facilities covered by the deal, including the production plants at Zama, Sunderland and Smyrna, will continue to be employed. The headquarters and development centers of the business will remain in Japan.
Nissan will implement the transaction by first taking full control of AESC – founded in 2007 to develop advanced lithium-ion batteries – by acquiring the combined 49% minority holding held by NEC Corporation and its wholly owned battery and electrode subsidiary, NEC Energy Devices, Ltd (NECED).
NEC today announced its approval of the sale of AESC shares to Nissan and the fact that it is in negotiations with GSR for the sale of NECED.
Today’s announced transaction is subject to normal consultation with staff representative bodies and, pending regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed by the end of December 2017. The transaction is contingent on GSR concluding purchase of all NECED shares from NEC. Financial terms have not been disclosed."
Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, said:
“This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan. It enables AESC to utilize GSR’s wide networks and proactive investment to expand its customer base and further increase its competitiveness. In turn, this will further enhance Nissan’s EV competitiveness. AESC will remain a very important partner for Nissan as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles.”
Sonny Wu, chairman of GSR Capital, added:
“The acquisition of AESC represents an important step for us in the new energy vehicle industry chain. We plan to further invest in R&D, expand existing production capacity in the U.S., UK and Japan, and also establish new facilities in China and Europe, enabling us to better serve customers around the world. With these capabilities and plans added to the battery business’ already skilled workforce, high technical capabilities and proven product-quality track record, we will be in a very good position for growth.”