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Japanese Nissan plans game-changing electric car batteries

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TOKYO (AP) — Nissan is working with NASA on a new type of battery for electric vehicles that promises to charge faster and be lighter but safer, the Japanese automaker said Friday.

The all-solid-state battery will replace the lithium-ion battery currently in use for a product launch in 2028 and a pilot plant launch in 2024, according to Nissan.

The all-solid-state battery is stable enough for use in pacemakers. When finished, it will be about half the size of the current battery and will fully charge in 15 minutes, rather than hours.

Collaboration with the US space program, as well as with the University of California, San Diego, involves testing various materials, Vice President Kazuhiro Doi told reporters.

“NASA and Nissan need the same type of battery,” he said.

Nissan and NASA use what’s called the “Original Material Computing Platform,” a computerized database, to test various combinations to see what works best among hundreds of thousands of materials, Doi said.

The objective is to avoid the use of expensive materials such as rare metals, necessary for lithium-ion batteries.

Nissan is also relying on its historic experience with the Leaf electric car, which first hit the market in 2010 and has sold more than half a million units worldwide, although the technology of the battery is different, Doi and other company officials said.

The Leaf battery has had no major accidents on the roads, and some parts of the technology remain common, such as battery cell lamination, they said.

Other automakers, including Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp., as well as Germany’s Volkswagen and U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co., are working on solid-state batteries.

Recently, General Motors and Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. said they were working together on next-generation electric vehicles.

But Nissan executive vice president Kunio Nakaguro said Nissan was extremely competitive and the battery it was developing promised to be a “game changer”.

Interest in electric vehicles is growing due to concerns about the use of fossil fuels contributing to climate change and pollution. Players in the electric vehicle industry, such as Tesla and Waymo, are also growing and competition is intensifying.

Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. was keen to put the scandal of its former superstar executive Carlos Ghosn behind it. He was arrested in 2018 on various financial misconduct charges in Japan, but skipped bail in late 2019 and now lives in Lebanon, a nation of his ancestry that does not have an extradition treaty with Japan. He says he is innocent.

Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, spearheaded the drive for electric vehicles at the company, which also makes the March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models.


Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter

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