Nissan Sticks With AESC, Sale Of Battery Unit To GSR Canceled

JUL 2 2018 BY MARK KANE 34

It’s proving to be hard to sell a non-cutting-edge battery division.

Nearly one year ago, Nissan announced the sale of its lithium-ion battery unit, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), to Chinese fund GSR Capital, but that’s not going to happen.

2018 Nissan LEAF battery

The sale should’ve been completed by now, but despite three delays, GSR Capital failed to send the cash (apparently $1 billion or so) for AESC and three battery plants around the world, as well as part of R&D in Japan and probably a deal to supply LEAFs for at least several more years:

  • Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) subsidiary, acquired by Nissan (previously JV with NEC)
  • 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

AESC, a joint venture established by Nissan and NEC, was once on the forefront of the EV battery technology, but the chemistry probably is now far from being competitive with the state-of-the-art, so Nissan would like to sell the battery unit and choose new batteries for future models.

Without more investment, AESC will not be able to stay competitive, and if it’s not competitive there is no interest to purchase the company from Nissan. Panasonic’s boss Yoshio Ito said recently that “the potential to benefit from buying another maker’s existing equipment and facilities was very limited“.

“Nissan Motor canceled a potential $1 billion sale of its electric car battery unit to China’s GSR Capital, and while the automaker said it still aimed to find a buyer, analysts feel it could be a hard sell as the technology was not cutting edge.”

Source: Reuters

Categories: China, Nissan

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34 Comments on "Nissan Sticks With AESC, Sale Of Battery Unit To GSR Canceled"

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(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

Nissan you need a new battery and one with active TMS!!!!

Mark.ca

Maybe you need active TMS so you can cool down a bit. Mostl of us are going to fast charge 3 times a day to be affected by the battery charging issues and so far there is no proof the new 40kWh battery will have fast degradation.

scott

He happens to be correct.

Mark.ca

About his preferences?

SJC

Many people know Nissan failed on thermal management.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“…there is no proof the new 40kWh battery will have fast degradation.”

One doesn’t need to eat every apple in the barrel to recognize that it’s a barrel full of bad apples.

The only way Nissan is going to fix the problem with its battery chemistry is by licensing a good battery design/ chemistry from a leading battery maker such as Panasonic, LG Chem, or Samsung. Making slight fiddly changes and calling that a “lizard battery” very clearly has not solved the problem of premature aging.

And no, it’s not just the lack of active TMS. (Yes, that’s a bad problem, but only one of two bad problems.) The VW eGolf also lacks an active TMS, but we have not seen reports of rampant premature aging in the eGolf.

Troy

I turned in my 2015 S last month with a SOH of 88% after 600+ QCs (and living in a very hot, Phoenix-like climate). I’d give Nissan’s “Lizard” chemistry a B+, just like the 88%.

Well, in the winter it’d get a flat B, since I was seeing 85% SOH back in March.

Jason

The battery chemistry shouldn’t be the problem, the lack of active TMS is. Battery chemistry and TMS are two different things. At least one person with the 40kWh Leaf has shown potential of cooling the battery case results in better performance of the battery temperature, which makes total sense for a passive system.
How many e-Golf have been sold? What markets? Do they even have DCFC (by all reports CCS combo DCFC are few and far between in the US). From all my reading it appears to be a compliance car sold in markets conducive to passive battery cooling. Not really comparable.
So really not that comparable when you have one car sold literally everywhere and the other in selected markets.

Daniel Fearns

If you plug in before the Battery drops below 22% that mitigates the problem.

Jason

The battery isn’t the problem, it’s the fact they haven’t put a cooling loop into the battery pack. Do that and I’m confident all the battery issue go away.
With three factories, and the price point of the Leaf, the battery packs must be reasonably cheap to make. With 150mi range, if they just put a cooling loop in the pack, that would satisfy most of the problems because then you could DC charge several times during a trip.
So really, how dumb are Nissan? They need to put a cooling loop into the pack, that can’t really be that hard to do or cost that much. And they need to invest in DC chargers across all their markets. Tesla has already proven this is a critical point on the EV adoption curve.
The Leaf has a strong following, it’s a very comfortable car, and it has some nice technology. Now just fix the big issue with the battery and it will continue to be a great Nissan product.

scott

Yeah, the battery itself was good. It just needed thermal management. If the 2019 60 kWh Leaf does not have thermal management it will be a huge disappointment.

SJC

They could air cool with better heat sinking.
The Nissan management seems to have group think.

Quebec 100% EV

Japanese culture is all about group think…. and saving face.
A lot of this lack of TMS situation is unfortunately a result of that. They cant change it now, because if they do then many Nissan execs will “lose face”…

antrik

“Just adding a cooling loop” is not that easy. It requires extra hardware both inside and outside the battery pack; it requires major changes to the pack’s internal architecture; and since these involve geometry changes, they’d probably need to change the size of the individual pouch cells, too. Not to mention that the whole thing becomes not only more expensive, but also heavier and/or lower capacity. Indeed the chemistry they are using probably wouldn’t make sense with an active cooling system.

All this can (and will have to) be changed of course — but it’s not a simple tweak that can be done on a whim.

scott

It’s a shame Nissan has seen little benefit from being an early EV producer. Now they are saddled with AESC and outdated tech. I loved my 2013 Nissan Leaf SV, but that battery sucks, even in the PNW.

Mark.ca

They not going to sell you the ’13 battery in the new Leaf so what’s the point of your post?

scott

The ’13 to ’15 battery was pretty solid, all things considered. It could have benefited from TMS, however. It was pretty annoying not being able to drive from Seattle to Portland without the battery overheating. Or, even better was getting kicked into turtle mode while trying to go over Snoqualamie Pass. That was fun.

jelloslug

It’s the same issue Honda had with hybrids. The Insight set the stage for hybrids and they just let the advantage fade away.

ffbj

Nobody wants the spoiled food. Man, pretty bad news for Nissan, they hoped to dump that property and looked like they just might pull it off, but the potential buyers came to their senses. So Nissan is stuck with stranded assets in the battery business since those batteries are superseded.
Also it does give credence and ammunition to the various law suits filled vs. Nissan, that their batteries are inferior.

Maybe they can use them to make batteries for buildings like the one in the story that ran a few days ago .

Pushmi-Pullyu

I don’t think it’s surprising that Nissan couldn’t sell off battery factories making a clearly inferior product, especially with the recent reports of premature aging in 30 kWh Leaf packs; aging even faster than the 24 kWh packs!

Of course, Nissan is claiming that’s just a sensor malfunction or a calibration issue, but that’s exactly the same excuse they offered back in 2012, when reports of premature fading in the Phoenix area started to appear; an excuse which turned out to be an outright lie.

Now, who knows? Maybe this time it’s true. But even if so, that doesn’t alter the pretty compelling evidence that AESC’s battery chemistry has been inferior from the beginning, and hasn’t improved much. It’s certainly understandable why potential buyers of those factories would decide not to take the chance!

antrik

To be fair, we don’t know yet how well the 40 kWh batteries will hold up…

I wonder whether they could make more competitive batteries in the existing factories.

Don Zenga

Great news!!!. Nissan’s plan to sell their battery plant has been abadoned as the buyer failed to come up with capital.

This is a golden opportunity as Nissan can team up with some battery provider like Tesla teamed up with Panasonic and retain the business, develop it and use the batteries for higher output of Leaf. Batteries are very important component in an EV and every automaker should have some control over this.

On top of this, Nissan should also start building up a supercharging station network. They are in the EV business for 7 1/2 years and its high time they at least team up with a charging company to put up superchargers.

All along Leaf was just a city car, but with the 2018 model, it has more decent 150 mile range and this will increase to 220 miles when the 60 KWh version arrives next year.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Nice to see I’m not the only one with this opinion. 🙂 (Well, not about Nissan building its own supercharging network, but everything else you said.)

yo

It is safe to say Nissan has looked at all of their battery options up down in and out over and over and over and thinks the golden opportunity you speak of is fools gold…

Why dump billions in Li Ion tech when it is highly likely to be replaced with tech (Li Air, Sold State, ??) that is non compatible with the billions they just spent on machines to produce it…

Why be locked in to one manufacture when the second may produce something that is superior in performance price and durability??

Nissan a Supercharging network?? ummmm… NO…

Tesla had to partner with a battery manufacture and had to start a supercharging network as their choices were and still are limited to what they can do as a cash strapped startup company pushing a new tech to consumers who resist change…
And yes I still see them as a startup…

antrik

Much of the development of lithium-ion solid state batteries is in fact done with an eye on compatibility with existing production facilities.

menorman

> On top of this, Nissan should also start building up a supercharging station network. They are in the EV business for 7 1/2 years and its high time they at least team up with a charging company to put up superchargers.

They’ve been partnering with EVgo to install charging infrastructure for years and all new Leafs continue to come with two years of free charging on that network.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“AESC, a joint venture established by Nissan and NEC, was once on the forefront of the EV battery technology…”

In my opinion, the facts pretty clearly indicate otherwise.

It has been pointed out that the Volkswagen eGolf lacks any active Thermal Management System (TMS), just as the Leaf lacks one. Yet we haven’t seen reports of premature battery aging in the eGolf.

The reasonable and logical conclusion is that not only did Nissan make a mistake by not putting in an active TMS, it also tried to use a battery chemistry unsuitable for EVs. And if recent reports of even more rapid aging in 30 kWh Leafs is any indication, that situation has not improved. It may have actually gotten worse!

Instead of trying to sell off its battery factories, Nissan should license a much better battery cell design and chemistry from a better battery cell maker, such as Panasonic or LG Chem. Let AESC make cells to a standard which is actually appropriate for BEVs!

Magnus H

How well have you looked for such reports about the Golf? 30 seconds googling lead me to a forum where about 3-5 % / year is the reported degradation of e-Golf.

This isn’t significantly different than Leaf/e-nv200, is it?

http://www.myvwegolf.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=877&start=70

LS

The idea that the eGolf and also the Ioniq will not degrade is pure fantasy. We don’t have the reports because they have sold in such tiny numbers we don’t have enough on the road to know. We only know the battery performance of Leafs and Tesla’s. All the others are unknown at this point. It’s extremely unlikely that the ones without a cooling system won’t have problems with degradation

menorman

Furthermore, the Soul EV does degrade, so I fully expect the Ioniq to as well. Even Teslas degrade, though obviously not at the rate of the Leaf and from a much higher starting point in the first place.

tm

Ouch! Nissan was left holding the Giga-Bag..

menorman

This is precisely why no other automakers want to build their own battery factories but are instead sourcing their batteries from a third party. Doubly so if the solid state breakthroughs ever happen.

On the other hand, since they’re not selling it anymore, maybe Nissan will be willing to let the new packs live a little at the DCFC stop since they don’t have to pay extra to replace them.

Phaedrus

Isn’t that mr Bean on the picture above? 😉

Andy

The 40kWh battery on the new Leaf is about the same weight and size as the previous 24kWh, and gives a range of up to 200 miles on a single charge. So, the battery chemistry can’t be that bad. The old leaf had improvements to battery chemistry in 2013, and 2015, and also relied on passive cooling. Some Leaf taxis in the UK have reached over 100,000 miles, running on the same battery. Degradation in the 30kWh is no different, and there is no reason to consider the 40kWh to have degradation problems either. The problems with the 40kWh are mainly perceptual, whipped up by a Twitter storm; the creator of many alternative realities, and then by people repeating these negative perceptions without any rational or scientific basis..

I think it is the case that people in hot environments are likely to have more trouble, because the software reduces charging rate according to battery temperature, so disabling any genuinely fast charging for the car. Having said that, in the UK, I drove 175 miles in the new Nissan Leaf, and had no problems with it. –
https://cleantechnica.com/2018/06/16/175-miles-in-the-150-mile-2018-nissan-leaf-cleantechnica-nissan-leaf-review